On Thursday 2nd July 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta broke ground on Africa’s biggest wind-power project in Loyangalani District, Marsabit County.  This is another robust step, as Kenya seeks to put in place the energy infrastructure to achieve an installed power generation capacity of 5000MW by 2017. Save geothermal power, Kenya is quickly embracing renewable sources of energy such as Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project being a landmark project not only for Kenya but also for Africa.

On Thursday 2nd July 2015, President Uhuru Kenyatta broke ground on Africa’s biggest wind-power project in Loyangalani District, Marsabit County.  This is another robust step, as Kenya seeks to put in place the energy infrastructure to achieve an installed power generation capacity of 5000MW by 2017. Save geothermal power, Kenya is quickly embracing renewable sources of energy such as Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project being a landmark project not only for Kenya but also for Africa. 

The wind farm site, covering 40,000 acres (162km2), is located in Loyangalani District, Marsabit County, in north-eastern Kenya, approximately 50km north of South Horr Township.  The project will comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850 kW), the associated overhead electric grid collection system, and a high voltage substation.

Timelines
?    Financial close of Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) took place on 11th December 2014.  LTWP received the first disbursement of funds pursuant to financing agreements signed in March 2014.
?    Construction on the power plant commenced on October 25th 2014.
?    50 to 90 MW of capacity will be ready for commissioning by September 2016
?    The wind farm will be fully operational at 310 MW by mid 2017

Introduction
Willem Dolleman, a Dutch Entrepreneur resident in Kenya, and a friend of his discussed the windy conditions in Lake Turkana and approached Anset Africa, as project developers.  Anset Africa started developing the project and established KP&P Africa B.V later in 2006 to continue to develop the wind power project. KP&P Africa started collecting wind data in November 2006. Discussions with the Kenyan Government in 2009 culminated in signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power in January 2010.

The LTWP project, set to cost Kenya Shillings 70 billion, is the largest single wind power project to be constructed in Africa and is, to date, the largest private investment in the history of Kenya. The LTWP consortium is comprised of KP&P Africa B.V. and Aldwych International as co-developers and investors, and Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (Finn Fund), Industrial Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), KLP Norfund Investments, Vestas Eastern Africa (VEAL) and Sandpiper as investors.  Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd will oversee construction and operations of the project.

The financing agreements were signed in March 2014 with the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), Nederlandse Financierings Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), Société De Promotion Et De Participation Pour La Coopération Economique (Proparco), Eastern And Southern African Trade And Development Bank (PTA Bank), Nedbank Capital, The Standard Bank of South Africa, Eksport Kredit Fonden (EKF), Deg – Deutsche Investitions – Und Entwicklungsgesellschaft Mbh, East African Development Bank and Triodos.

Technology

The wind farm will produce 310MW of electricity and the first 90MW of power from the project is expected to be loaded onto the national grid by the end of 2016. Power from the plant will cost Euro cents 7.52  (8.42 US cents) per KWh and is expected to drive down the cost of electricity in Kenya. The addition of this clean energy into the national grid will reduce the need to add fossil fuel fired power generators in the national energy grid and reduce Kenya’s carbon footprint.

Power produced at the Loiyangalani site will be transported through a double circuit 400Kv transmission line that will connect to the national grid at Suswa. The 430km, 400KV double circuit line that will be constructed by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco). With funding from the Spanish Government and the Government of Kenya.

VESTAS V-52-850 KW – Wind Turbine selected
For this project the VESTAS V-52-850 KW wind Turbine has been  selected for use. This is a pitch regulated upwind turbine with active yaw and a three-blade rotor. It has a rotor diameter of 52 meters and operates using the OptiSpeed® concept. This feature enables the rotor to operate with variable speed of rotation (RPM).

Blades are made of glass-fibre reinforced epoxy (Prepreg). Each blade consists of two blade shells, which are bonded to a supporting beam. Special steel thread inserts, which are glued into the blade root along with bolts connect the blade to the blade bearing. The blade bearing is a 4-point ball bearing bolted to the blade hub.

The main shaft transmits the power to the generator through the gearbox. The gearbox is a combined planetary and helical gearbox. From the gearbox the power is transmitted via a maintenance free composite coupling to the generator. The generator is a special asynchronous 4-pole generator with wound rotor and slip-rings.

At higher wind speeds, the OptiSpeed® and the pitch regulating OptiTip® system, keeps the power at nominal level regardless of the air temperature and air density. At lower wind speeds the OptiTip® system and OptiSpeed® optimises the power output by selecting the optimal RPM and pitch angle.

The wind turbine brakes by full feathering of the blades. An emergency disc-brake system is mounted on the gearbox shaft at the High-speed end. All functions of the wind turbine are monitored and controlled by several microprocessor based control units. The Vestas Multi Processor (VMP) unit is placed inside the nacelle.

Changes in the pitch of the blades are activated by a hydraulic driven system which enables the blades to rotate 95°. The hydraulic system also supplies the necessary pressure for the brake system. Two electrical yaw gears rotate the yaw pinions which are in mesh with a large toothed yaw ring bolted on the top of the tower.

The yaw bearing system is a slide bearing system with built-in friction and an electrical brake on the yaw gear motors. The glass-fiber reinforced nacelle cover protects all the components inside the nacelle against rain, snow, dust, sunlight etc. Access to the nacelle from the tower is through a central opening. The nacelle also houses a 250 kg service-crane which is placed in the rear end of the nacelle and operated out.

CSR and Conclusion

LTWP adopted a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program that will be implemented by the Winds of Change Foundation (a wholly owned subsidiary of LTWP). The project considers the support, interaction and uplifting of local communities a high priority for LTWP. This foundation aims to uplift local communities through programs such as the CHAT HIV awareness campaign, water, sanitation, electrification, sustainable development of agriculture as well as the education of boys and girls.

LTWP was awarded the African Renewables Deal of the Year for the IJ Global Awards 2014 Europe & Africa and was also awarded the African Renewables Deal of the Year 2014 by Project Finance International.  The project has also won the Africa investor (Ai) Power Deal of the Year.

Kenya has the potential to produce over 1,000 MW of wind power for sale to the national grid. This preliminary assessment by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has been used to develop a wind map for the whole country. This is to facilitate decision-making in wind power generation investment; the government is keen on adding more wind power generation resources into the national grid.

References
1.    Lake Turkana Wind Power project- ltwp.co.ke
2.    Vestas Wind Systems A/S- Vestas.com
3.    Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Kenya- energy.go.ke
4.    Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Kenya- erc.go.ke

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