Anyone flying from the Masai Mara into Wilson Airport these days will see the wind power plants erected on the famous Ngong Hills, at the foot of which Baroness Blixen made immortal through the film “Out of Africa” who had her farm and where the Karen Blixen museum is now located. A new wind power initiative is now in the approval stage by the government of Kenya to build a whole wind farm in Marsabit district, where a group of Kenyans living abroad want to put up a 300 MW facility to give Kenya more electricity and, most important, more green electricity generated from renewable sources.
Presently, the country depends heavily on the use of thermal plants, propelled by diesel or heavy fuel oil, as the hydro capacity has been limited by the past drought, when reservoirs have shrunk – and are still way below average in spite of the heavy rains right now.
A similar wind power plant, it is understood from a source in Nairobi, is also planned in the Turkana area of Kenya, equally proposing to generate 300 MW, and the combined added capacity when coming on line will relieve Kenya of the need to employ any thermal power plants, each of which adds between 50–100 MW into the national grid right now.
East Africa is undergoing a renewed drive to create added infrastructure in power generation for roads and railways, and there is hope that in another 10-15 years, the region will be presenting itself in a very different light compared to the past and present day with electricity then available also to the rural populations, presently depending almost entirely on firewood and charcoal for their energy requirements. This will also ensure a regular supply of power to the cities, urban centers, coastal resorts, and industries in the region.
In a related development, it was also confirmed that the Kenyan Geothermal Development Company was set to expand the use of geothermal power sources by a further 280 MW in the coming years, and that drilling was already underway in preparation of the installation of added plants. The overall estimated geothermal capacity of Kenya is said to be in the region of about 7,000 MW, while presently only about 170 MW are, in fact, being generated at this time.
Adds this correspondent, there is lots of room to go greener and greener to more than satisfy the national electricity requirements.