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High winds propel plans for Africa's biggest wind energy plant at 300 MW

Kenya could leap into the lead with Africa's biggest wind energy plant if plans to build 300 MW on the shores of Lake Turkana in the northeast come to fruition. The project is being developed by Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP), a Nairobi-based consortium of local and Dutch entities, including Anset Africa, a project development and management company, and KP&P, which operates five plant in the Netherlands. Veteran Dutch wind power developer Henk Hutting is also a shareholder. German wind energy institute DEWI logged average wind speeds at an impressive 11 m/s at the site. LTWP expects the environmental impact study to be approved next month, after which it can apply for an independent power producer licence, though LTWP's Chris Staubo says this has been provisionally agreed. The company has already signed a power purchase agreement with the state utility, Kenya Power and Lighting Company, and Vestas is to supply the turbines, expected to consist of 353, 850 kW units, set on lattice towers. The African Development Bank has pledged 30% of the estimated $760 million project cost and indicated it would like to take a lead role in syndicating bank loans from other development banks. The cost includes upgrading some 200 kilometres of roads and building 400 kilometres of transmission line. LWTP hopes to hook up the first turbines in July 2011 and reach full production a year later, boosting Kenya's total generating capacity by around 30%. The company estimates the plant will save around 16 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

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