To fully achieve the aspirations outlined in the Vision 2030 blue print, Kenya will need to invest massively in the energy sector. The transformation of the country into a globally competitive, industrialized and a prosperous nation, it will require a number of energy generating initiatives that will meet the increasing demand for electricity.The government has proposed a road map to raise the generation capacity by at least 5000MW from the current 1664MW to slightly over 6700MW by 2016, in order to provide affordable and competitive electrical energy to transform the economy.
The government would want to improve energy security, mitigate global warming and reduce air pollution, a strong reason why renewable sources of energy should be at the forefront in the country’s energy plans.
Current power supply stands at 82% for hydropower, 8.7% for thermal, 8% for geothermal and 0.01% from wind. Though wind power has been under exploited, all is not lost as a handful of investors and government are chipping in to help drive adequate power supply to the residents. Despite its enormous potential, wind energy has rarely been tapped and many wonder why the government has not gone full-blast into it.
Presently, Kenya has Lake Turkana Wind Project LTWP (300MW), the largest wind power project in Sub-Saharan Africa and Kipeto Wind Project (20.6MW) as the major projects.However, a series of the same are about to spring in different parts of the country with Kinangop Wind Park Limited Power Project (60.8MW) in Nyandarua County being the latest firm.
In this age of advanced technology, wind energy can be used as a solution to non renewable energy sources. As an intermittent energy source, wind power can be combined with a variety of other energy sources, such as solar and wave power, to ensure that supply meets hour-by-hour demand.
Wind power is proven to be cost effective technology, efficient and abundant source of domestic electricity and is expected to be the main way in which the energy sector responds to the government targets. As well as being good to the planet, it is also good for the economy as it reduces dependency on hydropower, improves balance of payments while increasing energy supply security.
With careful sitting and outreach to the local community, wind farms can be built in a fraction of time. A 50MW wind farm can be completed in less than a year. With the right location, it takes only 3-8 months for a wind energy farm to recoup the energy consumed by its building and installation. Decisions must always be made extremely carefully, with impacts mitigated and operations conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.
The firms create a steady income for investors and land owners, and provide manufacturing, construction and operational jobs. By generating additional local and state tax revenues from lease payments, wind farms also have the potential to support other community priorities such as education, infrastructure and economic development.
In addition, well-informed grid planning and highly interconnected transmission systems could help avoid disruptions. Implementing the necessary changes will require cooperation at multiple levels of government.
It doesn’t come easy too, as it has it challenges. Among these, wind developers and owners identified three main issues that create the greatest obstacles both presently and in the future. Each of these issues is significant on its own, and their combination creates a very difficult investment environment for new wind projects.
Difficulty in negotiating viable wind energy power purchase and off-taker agreements was identified by owners and developers as the biggest challenge facing the industry today. According to owners and developers, the current economy and abundance of cheap energy such as natural gas—has created an unfavorable pricing environment that makes the successful negotiation of purchase contracts difficult. Therefore, it is difficult to secure the long-term revenue streams needed to fund new investments.
Lack of strong Federal Renewable Energy Standards was also rated as a major issue facing the industry. Without strong Federal Standards, wind owners and developers have no clear assurance there will be a viable and growing market for wind energy in the future.
Undeveloped transmission infrastructure remains a significant industry challenge. Robust regional planning and effective transmission policies are urgently needed to address the significant transmission investments required to support new generation projects.
The overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion is that human activities particularly the emission of green house gases are the cause of depletion of the ozone layer. To tackle climate change, we need to move away from burning limited fossil fuel reserves to more sustainable and renewable source of energy. It’s time to embrace wind power.