Marsabit is the best location in Kenya to set up a wind power plant while Nakuru is tops in solar.
Ministry of Energy records along with satellite data indicate that the northern county of Marsabit, where the 310MW Lake Turkana wind farm sits, receives strong and steady wind speeds all year round. Marsabit wind speeds average 11.4m/s. Other best locations for wind parks, based on wind speeds and topography are Samburu, Laikipia, Meru, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Kajiado, according to Energy ministry records.
Onshore wind turbines work well on raised grounds receiving steady, high wind speeds.
“On average the country has an area of close to 90,000 square kilometres with very excellent wind speeds of 6m/s (metres per second) and above,” the ministry says.
At the same time, satellite data indicates that Nakuru is the best location in Kenya to set up a solar power station. Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa are the next best locations to harvest solar in the country.
“Nakuru is the best location to construct a solar power plant because the area receives high sun radiation levels while the land is elevated and the temperature is cool,” said French firm Urbasolar which gathered the satellite data. The firm has constructed a solar plant at Kenyatta University.
The intensity of sunlight, and not heat levels, determines solar power generation with hot places having lower yields.
Kenya in September 2018 switched on the 310MW Turkana wind farm in Marsabit, the largest wind plant in Africa. A month later the country again commissioned 55MW Garissa solar park – the largest in East Africa.
Wind currently accounts for 13 percent of Kenya’s total installed capacity of about 2,700MW, while solar accounts for two percent.
A wind energy data analysis conducted by WinDForce Management Services Ltd indicated that Kenya has a potential to generate a total of 4,600 MW from wind energy, or nearly double the country’s current total installed capacity.
Other potential sites with high wind power yields include Lamu, off shore Malindi, Loitokitok at the foot of Kilimanjaro and Narok plateau.