Windlab East Africa, Eurus Energy, the Kenya Investment Authority, and Meru County Government sign a Memorandum of Understanding for a Meru County wind/solar/battery storage project. Source: Twitter.

Kenya is one of the leaders of renewable energy in Africa. The 310 MW Turkana Wind Farm is the largest in Africa. It is the leader in Africa of geothermal electricity generation, now at 690 MW of capacity with more coming online. This year Kenya has begun advising Ethiopia on its geothermal energy development.

Kenya has just signed the contract for the development of the first solar, wind, energy storage project in Africa. It will be rated at 80 MW with 20 wind turbines and 40,000 solar panels with battery backup. This will cost $150 million and supply electricity to an estimated 200,000 families. Construction is slated to begin in 2021.

One interesting aspect of this project is that it will be sited in Meru County, east of Mt. Kenya, and that the Meru County Government will own and receive income from the project once it is up and running. Even though the electricity will be sold to the grid, the project should also stabilize electricity in Meru County. Another benefit is that if the county government is involved, they are likely to deal with the land issues that have made other Kenyan energy projects abort. The site will be called the Meru County Energy Park. The Kenyan Investment Authority will oversee investment aspects of the project.

Windlab is an Australia company that is developing a similar project with the Japanese company Eurus Energy in Australia, the first of its kind in the world. It is slated to be operational by the end of this year. They hope to expand to other renewable energy projects in East Africa.

While 80MW does not seem very large, it is equivalent to the additional yearly electricity capacity that Kenya needs to generate. The news reports did not indicate the cost of the power to the Kenyan grid, but the geothermal and wind farm costs have been in the realm of 8 US cents per kilowatt hour. I assume that this will be similar.

Windlab’s Global Chief Executive Roger Price commented, “We are excited to bring world-leading innovation in the renewable energy sector and project development expertise to Meru County, Kenya.” I am excited by this, too. If successfully implemented, it should be a prime example of how renewable energy projects with wind, solar, and battery backup can sprout up all over Africa.


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David Zarembka

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