NAIROBI, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Africa’s biggest wind power scheme, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Kenya, should be fully connected to the national electricity grid and producing power by the end of June, a director at the consortium building the project said on Wednesday.
The scheme had faced a series of setbacks, mostly due to problems securing financing which delayed construction.
Carlo Van Wageningen, founder of the project, said most of its 365 wind turbines had been erected and the last batch of 30 was due to arrive in the port city of Mombasa early next month.
Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, is supplying the turbines for the 70 billion shilling ($674 million) project.
“As of last Friday, we had 299 turbines standing and ready. Of those, we have by tomorrow (Thursday), 120 turbines fully connected to the substation and therefore ready to deliver 110 MW of power,” Van Wageningen told Reuters in a phone interview.
“We expect all the turbines to be erected, 365 (of them) by mid-March, and by mid-May latest, all of them will be fully connected to the substation, in readiness for power delivery.”
Kenya is increasing electricity generation and investing in expanding and reinforcing its grid to keep up with growing demand for power and to reduce frequent blackouts.
The east African nation 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, whereas the Lake Turkana project will provide 310 MW in total, adding to Kenya’s total current power generation capacity of about 2,341 megawatts.
A 428 km, 400-kilovolt powerline running from Loiyangalani in northern Kenya to Suswa in the centre of the country, which will link Lake Turkana Power to the national grid should finally be ready by the end of June, Van Wageningen said.
“So hopefully in the middle of this year we should start delivering the cheap power, 310 MW,” he said.
The powerline, being built by state-run Kenya Transmission Company (KETRACO), had been due to be completed by October last year but was delayed by demands for compensation from landowners along the route and other issues.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power consortium comprises KP&P Africa B.V. and Aldwych International as co-developers; Industrial Fund for Developing Countries, Vestas, Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd, Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries and Sandpiper Limited.
The project had orginally been due to start generating power in June 2011 but faced delays securing financing and construction didn’t start until 2014. ($1 = 103.9000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Susan Fenton)