The planned construction of a $780-million wind power project in Kenya is about to get under way. The consortium heading the project announced it is close to selecting contractors for the construction of transmission lines, roads and bridges to and from the project site, located in the remote district of Marsabit.

The completion of the 300-MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited (LTWP) project, Africa’s biggest, would increase the capacity of Africa’s installed wind turbines to more than 1,000 MW, or approximately 0.7% of the total worldwide capacity.

The consortium, LTWP, led by Aldwych International (51%) and Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa (19%), says a contractor will be announced shortly for the construction of the $170-million, 426-km transmission lines from the Marsabit site in northern Kenya, 600 kilometers from the capital Nairobi.

“Various parties have been short-listed, but no contract has been awarded as yet, although negotiations are ongoing with Kenya Electricity Transmission Co. Limited [Ketraco],” says LTWP’s director, Chris Staubo. Ketraco is a wholly government-owned state corporation with a mandate to plan, design, build, operate and maintain new electricity transmission lines and associated substations throughout Kenya.

Staubo said the investor also has short-listed contractors for a $15-million, 200-km road along the 1,200-km stretch between the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa and the project site.

Completion of the road would provide a route for more than 4,000 truckloads of required equipment to the site, including the gigantic 365 V52 turbines and the 44-m-long steel tubular towers to be supplied by Vestas and other vendors from Italy and Germany. The turbines will have a capacity of 850 KW each.

Following preliminary construction, worth $185 million, by LTWP, Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems, Randers, then will start its engineering, procurement and construction contract on the project.

Staubo said construction of the 400-kV double-circuit line from Loiyangalani in Marsabit to connect and supply power to the country’s national grid at an optimal point at Suswa will start once LTWP finalizes negotiations with Keyna’s transmission company.

The World Wind Energy Association says Africa’s wind-energy segment is growing at 28% per annum, slightly below the global rate of 31.6%.

Once complete, the LTWP wind power project is set to benefit from $14 million in carbon revenue through the generation of an average emissions reduction of 919,060 tons of CO2 a year, Staubo says.