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Kenya turns down bid for Africa’s largest wind power plant

Kenya rejects a Swedish firm’s request to construct Africa’s largest wind power plant in Malindi.

 

Kenya has instead advised the Swedish company to do small, medium sized projects at different locations across the country.

Sweden-based VR Holding AB had last year submitted an expression of interest to build a 600-megawatt wind project in the Indian Ocean waters bordering Malindi.

Analysts reckon that a huge power plant would leave Kenya with excess power that will see consumers pay billions of shillings annually for electricity not used, beating the project’s purpose of slashing power costs in Kenya.

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“Wind is an intermittent power source and, therefore, we cannot approve such a big plant in one location since it will come with huge costs tied to power supply reliability, evacuation and transmission,” director of renewable energy at the ministry of energy Eng. Isaac Kiva told business daily.

Experts have instead advised Kenya to stagger the construction of the wind power plant in phases, in tandem with demand growth.

Mr Kiva said Kenya’s renewable energy framework provides only for small and medium-sized projects under the feed-in-tariff system, which fixes electricity prices for wind and solar projects of up to a capacity of 50 megawatts.

The only project outside this limited framework is the 310-megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power in northern Kenya which is set for completion in July at a cost of Sh70 billion  which also run into similar problems after the World Bank in 2012 pulled out of the financing deal, citing Kenyan economy’s insufficient demand to absorb the expected surplus electricity.

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Kenya relies heavily on renewables such as geothermal and hydro power for its electricity supply. Kenya Electricity Generating Co produces the country's only wind power, but its capacity is just 25.5 MW, when the Lake Turkana project is complete it will add to Kenya's total current power generation capacity of about 2,341 megawatts.

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