Nairobi — The government is boosting efforts to tap wind energy, the latest attempt towards reducing over-reliance on hydro-power and costly diesel-powered generators.
The Ministry of Energy says it will facilitate investments in wind and other sources of renewable power by negotiating deals on behalf of private investors with local governments.
Frustrated by drought-induced power shortages and rising global oil prices, the government is seeking to attract more investments in renewable energy to stabilise supply and reduce the cost of doing business.
"I assure any investor who wants to help us to exploit our untapped potential in wind energy and other sources of renewable energy such as solar that we will help them to negotiate with the counties and even the landowners," Mr Kiraitu Murungi, the Energy minister, said after commissioning KenGen's 5.1 megawatt wind mill at Ngong Hills, west of Nairobi.
The wind farm is being financed through a Sh1.1 billion (11 million euro) loan and will have a capacity of 25.4MW once complete in 2012.
KenGen managing director Eddy Njoroge said the project was part of the company's five-year plan to inject 500MW into the national grid by 2013.
Mr Murungi said talks were under way with the county council of Marsabit in connection with wind and solar energy projects.
To create a database and market opportunities in the wind sector to potential investors, the government plans to instal 33 (40-metre high) wind masts and data loggers across the country by November this year.
The data will complement the Kenya Country Wind Atlas, a profile of areas with adequate wind for power generation.
The Energy ministry has also floated a tender to instal 20 wind masts and data loggers while KenGen is researching in 12 locations.
"Our wind power potential is enormous but its exploitation has been minimal. Unlike electricity generated by fossil fuels, wind-generated energy can provide electricity without pollution or depleting natural resources," Mr Murungi said.
The farm, near Lake Turkana, will generate a quarter of the country's current installed power when complete in 2012.