LTWP OPEN DAY: ELDERS, WOMEN AND YOUTH COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES VISIT WIND FARM

LTWP organises Open Days at the windfarm with the purpose to have a dedicated platform on which to engage with the local communities, in addition to the ongoing dialogue that takes place through the Community Liaison Officers and Advisors (CLO’s & CAs).

The attendees, most of whom are opinion leaders, committee members of various organisations and community representatives are given an opportunity to visit all areas of the wind farm and to have their questions and concerns addressed, in addition to discussing various community requests.

On 14 July 2021, LTWP welcomed 105 elders, women and youth representatives from the 9 locations of Laisamis and Nyiro. Of these, 14 were Chiefs and 7 National and County Government officials.

To make the event possible, LTWP provided transportation to and from the wind farm site.

Head of the EIB Regional Representation for East Africa visits LTWP offices in Karen – Shared her leadership journey with the LTWP Ladies.

 

After 6 years spent in Kenya as the Head of the EIB Regional Representation for East Africa, Catherine Collin’s posting came to an end on 30 June 2021 but before her exit, Catherine was gracious enough to accept our invitation to a Women Empowerment talk with LTWP female colleagues on 22 June 2021.

Catherine has experience of over 30 years in the financial sector acquired in commercial banks both in Europe and South Africa.

In her talks, she emphasized on the need for women to recognize, articulate, and act on their greatest strengths and address the barriers that undermine their efforts to build rewarding and sustainable careers. Women have become far more confident about what they bring to the table and have learnt through experience the value of female solidarity and support. As growing confidence based on demonstrated competence has increased women’s determination to reach their full potential, so has greater solidarity among them. “In my experience, this is one of the most dramatic shifts that has taken place over the past 30 years”. Catherine explained.

Further, the team discussed on how today women initiatives often play an integral role in a company’s talent strategy. Well-led global organizations now seek leaders who combine decisiveness with the ability to cultivate relationships broadly, motivate and inspire, collaborate and listen, communicate across all levels, and nurture others while excelling at their own jobs. Moreover, research has also shown that diverse teams make smarter decisions and are more effective.

Our take home for the day was that women who aspire to leadership also need to support other women to distinguish themselves and enhance their visibility, reputation, and networks. The upshot is that women have become openly and enthusiastically helpful to one another and are often highly invested in promoting one another’s careers hence encouraging workplace diversity.

LTWP Community Liaison team participates in a three – day training on Peace, Conflict Management and Reconciliation

Our team of Community Liaison Officers and Advisors participated in a training on Peace, Conflict Management and Reconciliation from the 3rd to the 7th of May 2021 conducted by The Kenya Institute of Social Work and Development.

This was a very good avenue where LTWP shows by example what should be done now and in future to enhance and encourage others to strengthen their will and endeavors to live together in harmony.

It is our hope that this training will provoke a new way of thinking and actions aimed at improving peacebuilding and conflict management within our area of operation. We are very proud of the creative ideas and strategies of our CLO team and their commitment to doing what is necessary to improve peacebuilding and conflict management. The CLOs put immense effort and dedication to this training, and it was a unique experience having been the first of its kind in the organization.

By fostering peace, we demonstrate positive change in and around the windfarm and we are hopeful that this exercise will bear many more fruits. We encourage views and input from our CLOs and CAs who represent LTWP within our area of influence and are impressed by what the team is doing in areas where tension exist in preventing any crisis, resolving conflicts and developing strategies for a more peaceful County.

Their objectives are always to mitigate the potential for conflict, enable conflicting parties to interact with one another peacefully and to reduce the likelihood of violent conflicts being rekindled through dialogue. It is therefore important that such dialogue be held in an atmosphere of mutual respect for each other’s opinion, a feat that sometimes proves to be very difficult, but our able CLOs have come out victorious in such instances.

We congratulate the team for successfully completing the training and are sure that they will continue to make positive contribution, no matter how small, towards enabling the understanding that peace is the main cornerstone of development and growth in every community. Individuals may have varied perceptions, beliefs and values but peace, however, unites all humankind.

 

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.

Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to Kenya visits LTWP

The ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya, H.E. Amb. Maarten Brouwer, took a tour of Lake Turkana Wind Power, Kenya’s largest wind farm, during a visit to Northern Kenya.

H.E Amb. Brouwer noted that LTWP is a visionary project that should inspire more investment in similar developmental initiatives. “It is impressive and well organised, a show that Dutch entrepreneurship can help to stimulate development,” said H.E. Amb. Brouwer.

The delegation from the Dutch Embassy was shown around the wind farm by Chief Technical Officer, Wellington Otieno, and Winds of Change Foundation Chairman, Willem Dolleman.

Lake Turkana Wind Power was funded in part by Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), a Dutch development bank, and the European Investment Bank, and remains to date the single largest private investment in Kenya.

During the tour, H.E. Amb. Brouwer held meetings with the members of the communities living around the wind farm, and was informed about the community support activities being undertaken by LTWP’s foundation, Winds of Change. The delegation also paid a visit to the Gatab borehole, a project by Winds of Change Foundation.

H.E. Amb. Brouwer commended Winds of Change Foundation for the impact that the foundation is having on the local community through projects that enhance employability through education, access to water and access to healthcare.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers pays courtesy visit to LTWP offices

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers paid a visit to LTWP offices where the two organisations held consultative talks about clean energy and the cost of doing business in Kenya.

Speaking during the visit, KAM CEO Phyllis Wakiaga, noted the vital role that LTWP is playing in promoting manufacturing, and reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to developing a sustainable manufacturing sector. “The association remains committed to driving discourse on supporting our industrialisation agenda. We continue to support the development of an innovative, sustainable and competitive manufacturing sector,” said Wakiaga.

Renewable energy plays a crucial role in manufacturing reducing the cost of energy by decreasing dependence on expensive thermal sources, while simultaneously reducing the sector’s overall carbon footprint. LTWP has displaced more than 2.5million tonnes of carbon emissions to date.

LTWP CEO, Jon Zaidi, noted that LTWP’s mandate remains to provide clean energy to Kenyans, but the Kenyan taxation policy is creating a difficult business environment. “Our vision is to provide reliable, low-cost energy to Kenya’s national grid. However, our efforts continue to be hampered by the high cost of doing business in the country, attributed to Kenya’s fiscal and taxation policy,” said Zaidi.

LTWP is a key player in the Kenyan government’s commitment to scaling up electricity generation to 5,000MW and is a flagship project within the Vision 2030 program.  

About Kenya Association of Manufacturers (www.kam.co.ke)

Established in 1959, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) is a representative of manufacturing and value-add industries in Kenya. The Association has grown into a dynamic, vibrant, credible Association that unites industrialists and offers a common voice for businesses.

KAM has been front and centre in driving fact-based policy advocacy towards the formation of industrial policies to strengthen and support the country’s economic development. Through fact-based advocacy, KAM partners with Government and its associated agencies to ensure a dynamic and flourishing manufacturing sector in Kenya, to realize a double-digit contribution to GDP.

Winds of Power

Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP): Friend or Foe?

LTWP’s arduous decade-old journey from humble origins to Africa’s largest wind farm and Kenya’s single largest private sector investment has encountered many obstacles. But nothing has tested the collective resolve of both the public and private stakeholders involved in this project as the barrage of negativity that has engulfed what should have been a joyous occasion when the much-awaited 436km transmission interconnector linking the 310.25MW power plant to the national grid at Suswa was energised, paving the way for clean, reliable, affordable power.

This is a private company that has set the benchmark for how successful infrastructure projects will be undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa; a project that places Kenya firmly on the global map in so many positive ways; a project with a financing structure that will rarely be replicated; and a transformative undertaking that has offered hope and potential to the residents of one of the most neglected parts of Kenya. Why then has LTWP not (yet) succeeded in being the game-changer it was set out to be? What does this landmark project’s experiences spell for similar undertakings?

It is easy to get waylaid by sensation and focus on the much-reported EUR 46M paid by the Government of Kenya (GOK) to LTWP for the Transition Interconnector Delay Deemed Generated Energy (TI Delay DGE) Payments in 2017 and the corresponding 0.00845 euros per kWh that will be added on to power bills for six years (at which rate, LTWP’s tariff is 8.53 Euro Cents per Kwh). There is nothing sinister about this. LTWP has explained, in full transparency the genesis, need and result of this. Any attempt at trying to discredit LTWP or GOK is futile and LTWP has been not only utterly patriotic in how it worked hand in hand with GOK to resolve this as painlessly to Kenyans as possible, but unbelievably transparent. Equal effort has gone into explaining the most complex technical aspects of capacity factors, Megavars and Megawatts, cold and hot commissioning and a myriad of other aspects that frankly, most don’t really care about. It’s all a smokescreen.

LTWP’s project financing structure withstood the rigour of 17 international, credible and seasoned lenders’ and investors’ due diligence and will, for years to come, be among the most credible project financings ever undertaken. There are so many silent voices in the Government, in the private sector and others who have gone out on a limb – who believed in this project, supported it and wanted this project to succeed – for the future of this country – no one has thanked them. They wish to remain in the shadows out of fear of being seen to be compromised. Instead, a culture of fear permeates where even those charged with the enormous task of ensuring that projects like LTWP are encouraged and protected, stand down. How can Kenya develop if Kenyans do not appreciate what has been done by Kenyans for Kenyans? Where were the 43 Banks in the project financing structure? All the debt is procured (cheaper and with longer tenors) from offshore. One bank today (incidentally one that rose from the ashes of receivership) took the bold step and provided a construction security (fully collateralised, in case the cynics ask). LTWP has spent more on CSR between 2014 and 2018 than the County of Marsabit has on development projects in the same period. It has paid over a billion shillings in taxes even before it received its first shilling from sale of power. It built a 208km road that has cut down travel-time from Laisamis to Sarima by over a day and opened up trade, investment and economic activity to an area previously marginalised, and has radically improved security, health, education and other social indicators.

It is not until LTWP came online and started generating intermittent renewable energy (although LTWP is as baseload as it gets – but we’ll stay out of technicalities for now) that reality dawned: how are we going to deal with the questions of how the committed generating capacity in the Least Cost Power Development Plan 2018 for the period 2017–2037 is going to be absorbed? How will we manage system instability? What will happen when the Ethiopia HVDC line evacuates 600MW of hydro-power? Have we started thinking of installing a synchronous condenser at the Suswa sub-station? Do we push for a coal plant or not – and if not, how do we deal with minimum spinning reserve? What’s the role of solar – and when? Should we lower night-time tariffs or subsidise life-line households? Should we instead export power to Uganda at night and import during the day? Will tariffs go up or down? Should KPLC’s monopoly be lifted (bad idea incidentally)? How do we grow demand (the only way tariffs will come down)?

The fact is that LTWP is the disruptive entity that has shaken the core of Kenya’s energy sector and opened up the sector to a level of scrutiny hitherto never witnessed. It has shone a light on how traditional infrastructure projects are undertaken. It has demonstrated the benefits of public-private partnerships. It has shown the power of people and a Government determined to make a difference. We were not perfect, nor was any other stakeholder involved. But, together, we came through. To each of those silent supporters – wherever you are and in whatever capacity – past and present, you made a difference. And if the Country has not thanked you -we do, and your children and Kenyans in the future will thank you too.

For more information about the project, please watch our video here

Celebrating Charity

On Wednesday 5th September, the world will celebrate International Day of Charity – a day to shine a deserved spotlight on charitable organisations from all over the globe. It was in 2012 that the United Nations decided to nominate this day to honour the incredible work that these organisations do. The 5th of September was picked due to it being the anniversary of Mother Theresa’s death, a person who had devoted her entire life to philanthropy. And whilst this may be yet another entry on the global calendar that is increasingly being populated with specific days to commemorate all sorts of events and activities (there is Wildlife Day, Read a Book Day and even Strange Music Day!), we believe this particular annual celebration is one of the most important.

Every year, charities help to save and improve lives, fight diseases, protect children, and give hope to millions of people. The determined humanitarian work is ongoing and often gruelling in hard-to-reach areas. Spending a day congratulating those that truly make a difference to the world is the very least we can do and, in this spirit, we’d like to say “Asanteni” (thank you) to all our members of staff at our Winds of Change (WoC) Foundation.

Since its inception, Lake Turkana Wind Power has placed community support at the heart of the project. As part of our commitment, we established WoC and promised to dedicate a portion of our revenues to activities that would improve local livelihoods in the area. Working in partnership with county governments, local leaders and NGOs, our staff work hard to provide a sustainable impact by enhancing employability and improving general access to health and education services as well as clean water.

Dominic Kurewa Dabalen is from Korr, in northern Kenya, and is a WoC Field Program Officer. In his own words:

“My main role is community engagement and interaction, to better understand community needs. I work closely with these communities to identify potential development projects and then act as their main contact person while projects are being implemented.

The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to work for an organisation that is helping to improve the livelihoods of people in the constituency that I am from and grew up in. Having grown up in the area, I fully appreciate the importance of having to improve access to education, health and water facilities.”

For more information about the LTWP foundation, please visit the dedicated page: https://ltwp.co.ke/winds-of-change/.

Catching Fish and Chasing Dreams

On Sunday evening, 29 July 2018, millions of Kenyans tuned in to Citizen TV to watch Jeff Koinange cover the story of the Lake Turkana Wind Power project – “the untapped national treasure”. As many of you will have heard during the televised exposé, the story started in 2005 when two holidaymakers from the Netherlands visited the Jade Sea and tried time and time again to pitch their tent to bed down for the evening. The aggressive winds that travel along the Turkana corridor between Mount Kulal and Mount Ng’iro meant that the tent’s canvas kept on flying away.

Longstanding friends, the two men were farmers who grew wheat on the warm plains of northern Kenya and made the dusty trip to Lake Turkana every year to satiate their passion for fishing. Amid the moon-like terrain, Lake Turkana is the world’s largest desert lake and holds a wealth of large Nile Perch, yellow fish and other species – the perfect spot for avid fishermen.

The friends had decided to camp. They’d been fishing from the shoreline of Lake Turkana’s salty bays and due to their remoteness, there weren’t many alternatives. There were no hotels or any buildings at all in sight. As with every year, pitching their tent against the force of the wind was near to an impossible task – they’d almost certainly end up sleeping in their car. And yet, amid their great frustration, an idea was born. What if this incredible wind could be put to better use? Instead of blowing down tents, what if this energy could be harnessed? It could power homes, businesses, the Kenyan economy…

Returning home, the Dutchmen sounded out their idea among family and friends. Soon the world’s wind experts were sent to Lake Turkana to test it out for themselves. They weren’t disappointed. The reliability of the strength of the wind was hailed among the best on Earth.

Over the next 10 years, more and more people from all corners of the globe learnt about the incredible potential of Turkana’s wind. Finally, awarded the biggest foreign investment to date – testament to the extraordinary levels of belief and support it had received from its concept phase, the Lake Turkana Wind Power project began. Fast forward to today and the building of the site is now complete. The dream has come true. Now, as you drive up to Kenya’s windiest corner, 365 majestic turbines adorn the landscape ready to power over one million homes.

For more information, please watch our video “Dream Come True”.

If you liked this story, stay tuned for more every month.