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Kenya’s KenGen to add 20 MW from wind by end 2012

10 September 2010 – Kenya’s KenGen will add 20.4 megawatts of electricity from wind turbines at a single site in a move to add renewable power sources to help stabilise supplies by 2013, its energy minister said on Wednesday.

Ranked as east Africa’s largest economy, Kenya has a low power generation capacity and is heavily dependent on good rainfall to fill its dams.

"Our current historic capacity is 1,350 megawatts, which is too small. It’s actually a shame to talk about it, because this is what a small village in Europe will be generating. We intend to raise this capacity to 3,000 megawatts by 2013," Kiraitu Murungi told reporters.

 He said that would include an extra 500 megawatts from renewable sources. Kitaitu spoke after commissioning a 5.1 megawatt wind power project on the Ngong Hills, at the edge of the capital.

Owned by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), the main power producer, the wind farm is the first commercially viable wind project in the country, funded by Belgium.

Danish wind firm Vestas was the main contractor, supplying turbines and installing them and grid connection facilities. KenGen said the expansion of the wind farm — to be funded by both Belgium and Spain — would allow it to explore the possibility of selling carbon credits from the project.

Managing Director Eddy Njoroge said the company is looking for contractors for the expansion of the project, which will be built through two separate contracts of 6.8 megawatts and 13.6 megawatts.

Njoroge said KenGen had signed an agreement with HydroChina International to carry out a feasibility study for a 50 megawatt wind farm, also on the wind-swept Ngong Hills. Kenya is also tapping its immense geothermal resources in the Rift Valley.

It expects to increase power generated from geothermal steam in underground wells by 280 megawatts over the next three years. Another wind farm, known as Lake Turkana wind project in northern Kenya, is in the process of being set up by private investors. It will be the largest in Africa when completed in July 2013, generating 300 megawatts.