LTWP improving electricity infrastructure by installing a STATCOM

LTWP contributes renewable energy to the national grid. The wind power that LTWP produces replaces millions of dollars’ worth of diesel-generated electricity that would otherwise be emitting millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year.

The wind farm is run by a comprehensive team of industry experts. More than 350 people have gotten gainful employment by working at LTWP. The wind farm is especially important to the hundreds of families in Marsabit County – a traditionally marginalised region – who otherwise may not have had the income to sustain their lives.

Furthermore, the CSR activities that LTWP undertakes through its foundation, Winds of Change, further help improve the quality of life of the communities living around the wind farm by improving access to education, access to education, and significantly impacting water availability in the arid area.

Among the improvements and advantages that Africa’s largest wind farm has brought to Kenya, there is one technical innovation that benefits the national grid more than any other – the STATCOM.

An acronym with a unique name, the Static Synchronous Compensator (STATCOM) is a device that provides or absorbs reactive current, and by doing so regulates the voltage at the point of connection to the transmission circuit.

Think about it as the middle pole in a long clothesline. If you hang too many clothes on a long line that doesn’t have that middle supporting pole, the whole line is at risk for collapse. The STATCOM provides that support so that when there is too much current on the transmission circuit, the current is absorbed by the STATCOM and keeps the voltage within operational limits.

To see its impact, imagine the kind of damage that a voltage surge does to the electronic appliances in your home. One voltage surge can absolutely damage your TV, fridge, microwave, and anything else that isn’t connected to the socket through a voltage stabiliser.

The STATCOM, therefore, acts as a voltage stabiliser for the transmission interconnector circuit and keeps safe billions of shillings of electrical equipment across the country, including transformers, transmission stations, cables and other equipment.

LTWP brought the first STATCOM to Kenya, providing much needed addition to the electricity infrastructure in the country, and potentially helping prevent millions of shillings of damage to the equipment vital to electricity transmission and distribution.

LTWP achieves 75.8% capacity factor

March 2021 was a good month for us at LTWP, we achieved an average capacity factor of 75.8%, the highest in the 31 months that we have been in operation.

Capacity factor is a unitless measurement of how much electricity a generation plant is producing over a given period. It is a ratio of how much power the generator is producing, to how much power it would be producing at maximum.

According to our Chief Technical Officer, Wellington Otieno, the high-capacity factor was achievable owing to strong winds, and good maintenance of the wind farm.

“LTWP is situated in one of the best locations on the planet for onshore wind production. The high wind speeds brought about by the tunnel formed between Mt. Kulal and Mt. Nyiro mean our capacity factor is much higher than the rest of the world. Other factors such as the availability of the resource used for generation, and downtime of components for maintenance, or normal wear and tear leading to breakdown also come into play.” said Wellington.

A higher capacity factor means that we are supplying more renewable energy produced from wind to the Kenyan national grid, and reducing dependence on polluting and expensive diesel power.