Lake Turkana Wind Power Project In Remote & Breathtaking Kenya

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Construction of the Lake Turkana Wind Power project at Loiyangalani in Marsabit County celebrated a long journey’s success and groundbreaking in July. Some had called the project a quixotic dream. Officially launched with an inauguration by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July, the project has a max capacity of 310 megawatts of sustainable power.

Located in a remote part of breathtaking Kenya, it is a private-sector flagship project of Vision 2030, a long-term development blueprint that intends to turn Kenya into a middle-income country with a quality of life known to more populated and urbanised parts of the world.


Initially, the local community near the lake with a surrounding area given to fierce winds was sure the plan was simply wazungu (white people) wanting to study the locals. However, it was far more than this.

“Wind power varies depending on the time of day,” said Mugo Kibati, chairman of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project. “Your typical windfarm would have 25–35% utilisation capacity. Lake Turkana will be 62% utilisation capacity.”

Standard Digital‘s story “Viewing Lake Turkana Wind Power through Vision 2030 lens
shares the belief that all Kenyans will benefit by this long-hoped for renewable energy endeavor. “The private sector’s role in Vision 2030 flagship projects is as, if not more, important as the government’s. This is because Vision 2030 is a lot more than just expanding our rail, roads, and other infrastructure networks – it is about a transformation of society in its entirety by triggering economic growth.”

It was in 2006 that Willem Dolleman, a Dutch entrepreneur and farmer resident in Kenya, and a friend (in the wind power industry) discussed the windy conditions in Lake Turkana. He approached Anset Africa since he already knew them as project developers.

The €623-million project is a historic moment for Kenya, as it is the largest private investment in Kenya’s history. This project has won several awards and was nominated as the “African Renewable Deal of the Year 2014” by Thomson Reuters Project Finance International.


The beautiful jade waters of Lake Turkana ringed by ochre red volcanic hills was an out-of-the-way corner of Kenya. Visited by very few annual fishermen, such as Dutchman Willem Dolleman. The rugged northern corner provided more than fish, with dramatic winds that denied the stability of a shelter such as a fisherman’s tent. The winds caused Dolleman to sleep in his car — perhaps he was grateful the winds did not sweep the car away, as it would the tent.

Dolleman’s trouble was finding a tour lodge, as they were hundreds of mile apart in that northern corner of Kenya. Somewhere to stay in a vastly underdeveloped area was the issue. “Willem constantly told us that someone had to do something to harness the incredible wind power he encountered in the area,” said Carlo van Wageningen, as quoted by The Guardian. Wageningen is a business partner to Dolleman, who is now taking part in a consortium that is constructing Africa’s largest wind farm.6156288417_39cb6c95a3_z

“People really doubted when the initial teams came to the ground to explain what they were doing,” said Stakwel Yurenimo, a community leader who was one of the first to embrace the wind farm project and served as a liaison to the project team. “Nobody would buy or understand the idea that the plan was to establish wind turbines to generate power. No one has electricity here anyway, so most people told me that this was a plan by wazungu (white people) to conduct research on the locals and then leave.”

The Guardian reports some problems, not before found in the community. “Some representatives of local communities have alleged the project violates the community land rights of the locals.”

As well as the 204 km road linking the area to the nearest paved road planned to be built, as well as the construction of a 428 km transmission line to connect it to the national grid, there are other changes. The tasks of transition for the community shows the story of growing pains. Stephen Nakeno, a community leader, explained: “So many people have come in [to the site] looking for jobs. Many in the community also have new sources of income. We are seeing divorce rates going up. Venereal diseases that were unknown are now an issue. We need a permanent doctor stationed here.”

Not particular to place or any job requiring physical prowess, a woman has more of a struggle to become employed. Agnes Ngare Emase reported, “the contractors needed to break their habit of employing mostly young men and give more jobs to women.”

Many do appreciate the advantages due to the project. “This is an area that was completely forgotten,” said Stakwel Yurenimo. “The best thing is that the roads under construction will open up the place and bring in development, meaning children will have different options from their fathers and grandfathers.

Joshua Hill covered the last leg for CleanTechnica in December: “Vestas To Fulfil Order For Largest African Wind Farm.” Wind energy leader Vestas Wind Systems has announced that it has received an order to provide wind turbines for the 310 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Kenya, Africa — a project that Vestas claims will be the largest wind power project in Africa upon completion.”

We’ll keep you posted if more interesting information comes from this site.

Related Stories:

Acciona Commissions 138 MW Wind Farm In South Africa

Mainstream Starts Construction Of 80 MW Wind Energy Project In South Africa

Kenyan Wind Farm, Africa’s Largest, to Produce Lowest Cost Electricity

Images by Peter Etelej (CC BY SA) and wfeiden (CC BY-SA)

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor.

Cynthia Shahan has 946 posts and counting. See all posts by Cynthia Shahan

14 thoughts on “Lake Turkana Wind Power Project In Remote & Breathtaking Kenya

  • VD. Reminds me of those VD education horror films they showed kids in the 70s. Then they became STDs and now STIs.

  • Impressive. On a narrow bean-counting POV, you have to wonder whether the high and stable winds really justify the 428 km transmission line. Still, it brings electricity to a poor and isolated area, and as it’s practically on the Ethiopian border, an interconnect is now feasible. Further expansion will also be more cost-effective.

    • At first I was surprised by your comment, but then I remembered 428 km actually is a long way. Australians are weird.

    • Hopefully some of the electric will stay in the area to improve lives there.

    • In an ideal world, wouldn’t hydro project be potentially beneficial, if there is actual functioning electricity market in eastern Africa? Esp. if the dam has some capacity to work as a storage system: considering very high CF of wind park the two might work as fully dispatching source.

      I realize that in the real world relations between neighboring countries often have enough friction to make things more complicated but… still? Money is money, and coupling of the two resources just sounds very lucrative.

  • I checked and the wind turbines will be near the lake, but not in it. (Which admittedly would be an odd choice.) The wind turbines will be quite small by today’s standards, only 850 kilowatts. But smaller ones should be cheaper per watt and it makes them easier to transport them to the site and erect them.

    The transmission line they are apparently building is of such low capacity that I think it might be a typo. But maybe they are putting up transmission towers with only a couple of lines but with room to add more later when the project is up and running.

    • The only inofrmation I found on the transmittion line is 428Km 400Kv. I found no infomration on its capacity.. What did you find.

      • I think I must have just misread the same thing, because I was lying in bed last night when I suddenly realised it said kilovolts and not kilowatts.

      • The capacity of a typical single 3-phase circuit at 400kv seems to be around 1 GW (link). Most pylon designs allow for two circuits. It’s likely that expanding the Turkana farm would not run into transmission constraints.

        The wind conditions are plainly unusual. This may have made it unnecessary to go for today’s standard sizes and hub heights.

        • I was wondering about turbine sizes too — seem very small, and earlier I was guessing maybe it was to optimize for wind characteristics. But seems I got that part wrong, not much there to optimize, except perhaps price? Or, perhaps the fact that transporting bigger turbine blades would not be feasible or cost-effective.

          • If the prevailing wind is off the lake then taller towers shouldn’t be needed to get into clean air. Offshore wind doesn’t use the tall towers of onshore wind.

            Small could mean refurbished turbines. Germany is pulling some smaller turbines after using for only 10-15 years in order to install larger.

            Large turbines require good roads. Lots of weight. And specialized trucks for hauling.

            Tall hub heights and big turbines require big cranes. There might not be any available in the area.

            I can see combinations of the above setting the size.

          • And one gets the impression from project descriptions of the turbine producers that modern types need higher quality of maintenance, therefore at “O&M-critical” sites robust types are erected.

  • Your link is not opening for me.

    Wind turbines use a very small amount of the land in a wind farm, <2%.

    I have no idea who owns the land and what sort of payments may be arranged for turbine land use. Here, in the US, farmers and ranchers make more from their leased acreage than from farming or grazing those acres.

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