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Google to take Lake Turkana stake

KENYA: Technology conglomerate Google will take a 12.5% stake in the 310MW Lake Turkana project in Kenya once the project is completed.

Easy-to-transport Vestas 850kW turbines will be used at Lake Turkana
Easy-to-transport Vestas 850kW turbines will be used at Lake Turkana

Google will acquire the stake owned by turbine supplier Vestas, the tech company announced. The Danish manufacturer will supply 365 V52-850kW turbines to the project, due to be completed in 2017.

The small, high-speed turbines are easier than MW-scale turbines to transport the 1,200km distance from Mombasa Port to the site. As part of the deal, Vestas will service the turbines for 15 years. The company said it will base an operations and maintenance team in Kenya to work on the project.

Construction of the project began in July. It is expected to provide 15% of the country's electricity.

"We are making a commitment to invest in Lake Turkana because it makes financial sense, but also because it has the potential to have a massive impact on Kenya's grid, helping to spur the deployment of renewable energy in one of the world's fastest-growing countries," said Google vice president for energy, John Woolard.

UK-based Aldwych International is the lead member of the Lake Turkana Wind Power consortium and will also oversee construction and operate the plant.

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the African Development Bank, Danish export credit agency EKF and US government development finance institution the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) are among the long list of financing institutions supporting the project.

The African Development Bank provided a partial risk guarantee of €20 million for the transmission link needed for the project, known for its excellent wind resources but sited in a remote location.

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