The Lake Turkana wind power project involves the development and construction of a 300 MW wind farm. The project is located at a remote location, approximately 12 kilometres east of Lake Turkana in northwestern Kenya. The project area falls within a valley between two mountains that produce a tunnel effect in which wind streams are accelerated to high speeds. The wind farm will comprise 365 wind turbines of a capacity of 850 KW each. In addition to the Wind Turbine Generators (WTGs) and their foundations, a 33 kV electrical collector network will be constructed.
The project will benefit Kenya by providing clean and affordable energy that will reduce the overall energy cost to end consumers. Furthermore, the project will allow the landlocked Great Rift Valley region to be connected to the rest of the country through the improved infrastructure linked to the wind farm, including a road, fibre-optic cable and electrification. This zero-emission project will also contribute in filling the energy gap in the country, enhancing energy diversification and saving 16 million tons of CO2 emission compared to a fossil fuel-fired power plant.
The main objective of the project is to provide clean, reliable, low cost power by increasing Kenya’s national power generation capacity to approximately 17%.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project represents the largest wind farm project in Africa. It represents a large scale demonstration of clean energy technology and will lead to the reduction of up to 736, 615 tons of CO2 equivalent per year based on conservative estimates.
Innovation in Financing:
Kenya’s Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is an example of innovative financing for energy projects:
- The deal had a unique public-private aspect in terms of generation (private sector, by Lake Turkana Wind Project) and transmission (with the ancillary 428 km transmission line being procured and delivered by the public sector. All stakeholders worked closely together to minimise project-on-project risk.
- African Development Fund applied its first partial risk guarantee to the associated T-line to mitigate T-Line delay risk (which is otherwise covered by delay payment obligations of the Kenyan Government to the project company and its lenders).
- AfDB used its B-Loan structure, allowing participant banks to benefit from its preferred creditor status.
- European Investment Bank, with guarantee structures from the Danish Export Credit Agency (political and commercial cover) and from the two South African banks – The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited and Nedbank Limited (commercial cover) – it could leverage a huge €200 million into the project.
- The application of the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-AITF) financial instrument (which blends development finance institution monies with grant monies from the European Commission) was crucial in filling the equity gap.
The Lake Turkana project showed some innovation in how the liquidity risk was managed (by a combination of letters of credit and escrow account arrangements) that demonstrated some out-of-the-box thinking by government, sponsors and lenders alike.