Lake Turkana wind farm in Kenya is Africa’s single biggest wind farm in operation. Image courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S.
The 310MW Lake Turkana wind farm commenced operation in September 2018. Image courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S.
The Lake Turkana wind farm uses 365 Vestas V52-850 kW turbines. Image courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

Lake Turkana wind farm, located in the Loiyangalani District, Marsabit County, Kenya, is the single biggest operating wind farm in Africa.

The 310MW onshore wind farm was developed by the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) consortium comprising KP&P Africa, Aldwych International, Vestas, Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund). and Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund).

Construction on the $680m wind power project, which represents Kenya’s biggest private investment, was started in October 2014.

The wind farm was connected to Kenya’s national grid in September 2018, while official inauguration took place in July 2019.

The Lake Turkana wind farm accounts for approximately 17% of Kenya’s total installed capacity. It is capable of generating 1,400GWh of electricity annually, while offsetting 16 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions a year, over its 25-years estimated operational life.

Lake Turkana wind farm location and site details

Lake Turkana wind farm is located in a remote location in north-western Kenya, approximately 600km from Nairobi.

Situated at an elevation of 400m between the south-east end of Lake Turkana and the foot slopes of Mt. Kulal, the 40,000ha project site witnesses strong winds. The average wind speed at the site exceeds 11m/s.

The wind project involved upgrading of 208km of road from Laisamis to Sarima and construction of 130km of internal access roads.

Project financing

The Lake Turkana wind power project was financed through 70% senior debt, 25% equity, and 5% mezzanine debt.

The project achieved financial closure in March 2014.

The group of lenders for the wind farm include African Development Bank (AFDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), the Standard Bank of South Africa, Nedbank, FMO, Proparco, East African Development Bank, PTA Bank, EKF, Triodos, US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and DEG.

AFDB alone provided $150m senior loan for the project.

Lake Turkana wind farm make-up

The onshore wind farm is equipped with 365 Vestas V52-850 kW wind turbines.

With 52m-diameter rotor and 45m hub height, each three-blade pitch regulated turbine has a swept area of 2,124m² and offers a nominal generating capacity of 850kW.

The cut-in and cut-out wind speeds of the Lake Turkana turbines are 4m/s and 25m/s, respectively.

The electricity generated by each turbine is accumulated through a 33kV electrical collector network and transmitted to the on-site 33/40033kV substation.

Electricity transmission from the Lake Turkana wind farm

The electricity from the project substation is fed to the national grid through the purpose-built 436km Loiyangalani-Suswa 400kV overhead transmission line.

The Loiyangalani-Suswa transmission line as well as a new substation at Suswa, near Nairobi, was built by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO).

Power purchase agreement

Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) purchases power from the Lake Turkana wind farm under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Contractors involved with the Lake Turkana wind project

Vestas received an order to supply and install 365 V52-850 kW wind turbines for the Lake Turkana project in December 2014.

The scope of the contract also includes a 15-year active output management (AOM) service agreement.

Siemens was contracted to supply and install the high-voltage electrical equipment, including the transformers, for the Lake Turkana wind farm.

DAHER was subcontracted by Siemens for the transport and logistics of electrical equipment.

DNV GL provided advisory services for the Loiyangalani-Suswa transmission line.

Worley Parsons was contracted for the project management, engineering review, and construction management for the project in November 2014. It engaged COWI for providing detailed engineering services for the wind turbines and foundations, design review, acceptance tests, as well as construction supervision for the project.

RXPE was contracted for the Dynamic Reactive Compensation systems for the Lake Turkana wind farm in January 2012.

Mott MacDonald provided technical advice to the project’s financial lenders.

SECO and Civicon were engaged for civil construction work of the Lake Turkana wind farm.