Monday, April 15, 2024

Wind – The Answer to Green Energy


Electricity prices in Kenya are among the highest in East Africa costing $ 0.015 per KWh. The cost of electricity in Ethiopia for example is as low as $ 0.03 per KWh, Uganda $ 0.10 and Tanzania $ 0.14 per KWh. Despite the high cost, Kenyans do not enjoy a high quality service. Power cuts and power rationing all too frequent, and changing weather patterns limit access to electricity. Hydro-electric power provides over 60 per cent of the national electricity supply, but repeated failure of rains and environmental damage of watersheds like the Mau escarpment, has badly affected generation capacity. For this reason, the government is prioritizing the exploitation of other renewable and reliable sources of power.

Rising concerns over global warming, environmental pollution, and energy security have increased interest in development of renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources such as wind and solar and biomass.

Kenya Vision 2030 and the Second Medium Plan 2013- 2017 identified energy as one of the infrastructure enablers for transformation into “a newly-industrialized middle –income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment.” Access to competitively –priced, reliable, quality, safe and sustainable energy is essential for achievement of the vision.

Wind is the movement of air from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. Wind exists because the sun unevenly heats the surface of the Earth. As hot air rises, cooler air moves in to fill the void. As long as the sun shines, the wind will blow. Wind is an abundant energy resource that can be used to create clean energy because the sun causes perennial dynamics

Wind energy is indeed one stone that Kenya can use to kill the two birds –climate change and energy crisis. It eliminates emissions of the greenhouse gases and other harmful wastes associated with thermal and coal-fuel power plants. Furthermore, Kenya in collaboration with the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) can earn millions of dollars in terms of carbon trading by exploring and investing in clean energy.

Today, most wind energy comes from turbines that can be as tall as a 20-storey building and have three 200-ft (60-metre)-long blades. The wind spins the blades, which turn a shaft connected to a generator that produces electricity.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has prepared a national wind Atlas to map the potential of wind power. It has also published Feed-In Tariff (FIT) policy to attract private investments. The policy guarantees investors the minimum tariff they can charge the off-taker, the Kenya Power Company. The Wind Energy Resource Atlas of Kenya gives indicative information about the wind potential in various parts of Kenya. It further provides broad information on a national scale.

To utilize the immense wind resources, the Ministry of Energy, with funding from the World Bank, commissioned WinDForce Management Services Private Limited to provide consultancy services for wind Energy Data Analysis and Development Programme under Energy Sector Recovery Project.

The government of Kenya further recognizes implementation of renewable energy sources (RES) to enhance country’s electricity supply capacity and diversification of generation sources. The Energy Act 2006, Energy Act 2019 and Energy Bill 2017 on ‘Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation’ empowers the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum to promote development and use of renewable energy technology.

Following the Wind Data Analysis and Wind Atlas Development, WinDForce carried out pre-feasibility study in terms of Wind Resources Assessment of the annual energy output. 8 potentially viable sites for generating energy using different wind turbine models and further onsite resource were identified.

Ngong Power Station

Figure 1 Ngong Hills Wind Farm, courtesy of KenGen
Figure 1 Ngong Hills Wind Farm, courtesy of KenGen

A wind powered station located in the Northern foothills of Ngong Hills near the town of Ngong in Kajiado County. It was initially commissioned in 1993 with two turbines donated by the government of Belgium. According to the Standard Newspaper Online (TSNO, 24 July 2014), The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), own and operate the wind farm, have since then added new turbines and by 2015, the power station had a capacity of 25.5 megawatts.

Lake Turkana wind power

The Lake Turkana wind power project is located in Loiyangalani district, Marsabit County, Kenya. It is the largest wind farm in Africa comprising of 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850kw, and a high voltage substation. The station is connected to the Kenyan national grid through an associated transmission line; constructed by the Kenyan Government. The farm provides 5,000 MW of reliable, low cost energy to Kenya’s national grid- approximately 17% of the country’s installed capacity. This means Kenya can sustainably utilize green energy and reduce dependent on fossil fuels.

Figure 2 Lake Turkana wind Farm, source; Afrik21
Figure 2 Lake Turkana wind Farm, source; Afrik21

A few more wind parks in Kenya are in different stages of development. In some remote locations-for example in two Kenya Power’s mini grids-small wind turbines are in use.

Upcoming large scale wind projects- Kajiado Kipeto with 100MW target capacity projects; Meru Wind Project with 400 MW; Kinangop with 60.8 MW and One in Lamu Archipelago with 90 MW.

Wind energy is probably the solution for our energy demands. It has great potential and is easy to manage. All you have to do is build the turbine and everything else is going to be free. With only one turbine, you can power over 200 homes each using an average of 6KWh. Every wind turbine lasts for about 20-25 years. As long as the wind blows, wind turbines do not create greenhouse gases and are completely renewable source. Many people believe that the wind energy could soon be our main source of energy. Though wind turbines can cause complaints such as noise pollution and fatalities of wildlife-especially those in the sky and underground that might be hit by the blades- it could be the energy solution we have been looking for.

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