Kenya’s single largest private investment in history is the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project —the largest wind farm on the continent.
Quantifying the direct and indirect benefits of this project is challenging, but also critical to understanding how low emission development strategies (LEDS) can help countries achieve national development objectives beyond greenhouse gas mitigation—such as energy security, job creation, and improved health.
A new case study analyzes the benefits of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) and presents important lessons for maximizing social, environmental and economic returns for other large wind projects in the region and beyond.
The project, to be completed by July 2017, will add 310 MW of wind power capacity to Kenya’s national grid through the installation of 365 turbines, construction of 436 km of transmission lines, and rehabilitation of more than 200 km of existing roads. The project covers a remote area of 162 km2, which is home to a population of roughly 1,000 nomadic pastoralists. It will increase the nation’s electricity supply by more than 15%.
One principle that this project--in the making since 2005--heeded and that similar projects can learn from is the importance of planning and engaging local communities early in the process. Challenges and potential risks addressed during the planning phase included advising communities of construction risks and negotiating temporary resettlements, equitably allocating construction jobs among local tribes and providing new employees with job training and money management skills. As a result, few unexpected problems occurred.
Tensions that persist reflect the need for continued engagement with stakeholders throughout the site’s construction and operational phases. Another lesson to take away from the project’s development phase is the importance of development finance institutions for securing financing for large projects such as LTWP. Stakeholders suggest that the guarantees provided by development finance institutions provided the assurance needed for private investors to get involved.
The Lake Turkana project will bring low-cost, reliable energy to Kenya, and provide a host of co-benefits to help Kenya meet its development and sustainability goals. These include:
- energy reliability, security, and price stabilization by increasing national electricity supply 15-20% relative to 2015 generating capacity, leading to reduced reliance on imported fuels; generating power at one-third of the cost of electricity from fossil fuels; and diversifying the country’s clean energy generation mix beyond hydropower to protect against increasing uncertainty about water flows
- energy access that will enable Kenya Power and the Kenyan government to connect remote communities with reliable power;
- employment by creating more than 2,000 local jobs, of which roughly 150 are permanent economic growth for businesses nationwide through more reliable power supply and the upgrading of more than 200 km of road as a result of construction that will become available for local fish and livestock traders;
- greenhouse gas mitigation equivalent to an average of 740,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, once fully operational; community benefits, including improved access to food, health facilities, water, and local education, through the establishment of corporate social responsibility programs; health benefits from avoiding air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels, including reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.
The project will bring significant benefits to Kenya and can impart important lessons to other countries seeking similarly large wind projects in areas with low population density. Read the full case study Quantifying Benefits from Large-Scale Wind Power: The Case of Kenya’s Lake Turkana Project.
The case study is the work of USAID’s Global Climate Change Office and its Resources to Advance LEDS Implementation (RALI) Project, in partnership with the LEDS Global Partnership.
Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.