Celebrating Clean Power in Kenya: The Kipeto Wind Farm
Updated July 13, 2021
Commissioned into action on July 5, 2021, the Kipeto Wind Farm, situated 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in Kajiado County, is Kenya’s second-largest wind-power project. Comprised of 60 wind turbines supplied by Power Africa partner General Electric, Kipeto will generate 100 megawatts (MW) of clean electricity to power approximately 250,000 Kenyan households.
Power Africa lauds this breakthrough, which will see the lives of many Kenyans change for the better. This new renewable energy source also advances the Government of Kenya’s goal to achieve universal electrification by 2022. Currently, the International Energy Agency reports that 85 percent of Kenyans have access to electricity.
The Kipeto Wind Farm’s journey from concept to commercial operations demonstrates the breadth of Power Africa support, and showcases the incredible achievements made possible through public-private partnership.
Our technical, legal, and transaction advisory ranged from grid modernization and project negotiations, to a $230 million debt facility from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and critical wildlife studies that will benefit future wind power projects. Power Africa also helped the project overcome challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.
- Modernizing Kenya’s Grid to Integrate Renewable Energy: Between 2014 and 2018, Power Africa funded Kenya’s Grid Management Support Program (GMSP), providing technical assistance to the regulator (the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority), the system operator (Kenya Power), the power generation utility (KenGen) and independent power producers, and the power transmission utility (the Kenya Electricity Transmission Co.) on the integration of renewable energy resources into the grid. To prepare for variable renewable energy integration from wind and solar photovoltaic projects, Power Africa helped develop new grid codes and identified related technical needs. Strengthening the network will allow Kenya to keep pace with increased demand and plan for potential electricity trade with other countries via the Eastern Africa Power Pool.
- Providing Transaction Advisory to Close the Deal and Start Construction: In 2016, Kipeto signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Kenya Power, with the vision of providing 100 MW of operational power for the Kenyan grid. During the development phase, Power Africa technical advisors worked with the developer to support them in negotiations with key government stakeholders, such as the National Treasury, to ensure a bankable Government Letter of Support.
- Protecting Bird Life and Biodiversity: Two critically endangered raptors, the Rüppell’s vulture and the white-backed vulture, appear within Kipeto’s project area and qualify the area as Critical Habitat. To align with International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 6, the project was required to apply a mitigation hierarchy to avoid, minimize, restore, and, where necessary, offset the biodiversity impacts. At the request of the developer, Power Africa and USAID Kenya facilitated a Biodiversity Action Plan to understand, reduce and compensate for the possible impact of wind turbines on vultures and other raptors at the Kipeto site. Coupled with a Power Africa-funded strategic environmental impact-assessment study (SEIAS) for all wind power projects in Kenya, focused on the impacts on birds, this action plan was instrumental for Kipeto to foster goodwill and secure necessary community and environmental approvals. The SEIAS will also benefit the planned phases 2 and 3 of the Kipeto project, as well as all the other wind power projects in Kenya based on the lessons learned from the action plan.
- Mitigating COVID-19 Delays: Power Africa also supported the Kipeto project by providing critical data to BTE Renewables on the recovery of power and energy demand in Kenya after the easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The success of the Kipeto wind farm reflects Power Africa’s holistic support for energy projects in East Africa. Power Africa’s integrated approach helps partner countries optimize their power supply, increase access to electricity and attract private sector investment to ensure clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity supply to support economic growth and development.