Kenya firm plans 300 MW wind farm by 2012
A Kenyan firm plans to produce 300 MW of electricity by 2012 by harnessing renewable wind power in the north of the country, its director told Reuters.
Turkana Wind Power has been studying the viability of wind power projects in the barren, inhospitable region for the last four years, Chris Staubo said.
"Full production will be in June 2012 but we should start production in June 2011," he told Reuters late on Thursday.
Once completed, the project could meet about a quarter of Kenya's total energy demand, which stands at some 1,200 MW, just slightly below the installed capacity.
The government is looking at developing "green" energy sources, such as wind and geothermal, to meet demand that is growing at around 8 percent a year.
Staubo said the total project cost would be about $760 million and that the African Development Bank (AfDB) had indicated it would finance 30 percent of that.
He said the company planned 30 percent equity and 70 percent debt for the project.
The rest of the financing would come from locally syndicated bank loans and international investment banks in South Africa, the Middle East and possibly the United States.
The company plans to put up 360 wind turbines that will each generate 850 kw, to be constructed by Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S. Each turbine that is set up will come online immediately, Staubo said.
The company plans to have a 426 km (265 mile) transmission line linking the site in Loiyangalani to Suswa in southwestern Kenya. From there, it will be fed into the national grid.
The Constant Gardner, the 2005 film based on John le Carre's novel of the same title, was partly shot in remote Loiyangalani.
The 400 kv double circuit line will have the capacity to transmit 1,000 MW but the national grid can currently accommodate only 400 MW more.
Staubo said his company planned to expand production once the grid could accommodate more power: "We are looking at future development at the site ... The entire network needs to be upgraded before you can inject more."
Other companies were looking at the viability of wind production on the Ngong Hills on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi and in Kinangop in central Kenya, Staubo said.
But only his company actually had a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the government, he said.
The Kenya Electricity Generating Company produces most of the electricity used in east Africa's biggest economy, using hydroelectric and geothermal sources.
(Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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