Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kenyan Windfarms Provide Reliable Electricity

The new windfarm in Kenya will be the largest on the African continent. The Kenyan government plans to construct 365 wind turbines in the northern desert near Lake Turkana. With planned completion in 2012, the development will produce 300 MW, which currently constitutes a quarter of Kenya’s energy consumption. This added energy will help prevent blackouts that occur throughout the country and provide more resources for areas without access to electricity.

The new windfarm supplements a Dutch farm of 6 wind turbines already built in the Ngong hills near Nairobi. Plans for another farm in Naivasha, a tourist town, mean that Kenya is leading the way for other African countries to follow in sustainable energy. Wind is a smart choice for African countries since hydropower is unreliable and solar power is still extremely expensive.

Until now, windfarming was only a viable option for countries north of the Sahara. However, in addition to Kenya, the Tanzanian government sees the benefits of windfarming and has two projects planned for the central Singida region that will produce 100 MW of power. South Africa has also developed a program where feed-in tariffs would be awarded for wind power. This means that customers selling wind power receive above-market rates for using renewable resources.
-Jessica Milstead