Google to invest in Africa’s largest wind farm

The US firm will acquire Vestas’s 12.5% stake in Lake Turkana when the project is completed in 2017.

Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, has agreed to sell its 12.5 percent equity stake in the Lake Turkana wind park to US tech company Google once the project is complete in 2017.

The investment will represent Google’s 22nd in the renewables sector and builds on the long-standing relationship between the US firm and Vestas, which includes the 270 megawatt (MW) Alta Wind Energy Centre in southern California and the powering of a Google data centre in Finland. Lake Turkana will be Google’s second investment in Africa.

Located in Kenya’s Rift Valley, the $890 million wind farm will add 300MW to the country’s generating capacity, making it the largest wind project in Africa to date. According to a statement, it will also be one of the most efficient wind parks in the world, producing more than 1,400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of power annually and meeting approximately 15 percent of Kenya’s electricity needs.

“We commend Lake Turkana Wind Power for their ground-breaking work in bringing the project to this stage,” Vestas’ group president and chief executive Anders Runevad said, referring to the project’s investor group, which in addition to Vestas, includes Aldwych International, the power business majority-owned by South African firm Harith, along with KP&P Africa, Industrial Fund for Developing Countries, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation and the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries.

The project, which has been in development since 2006, will require a 428-kilometre transmission line to be connected to the grid. This link alone is expected to cost an additional €142.5 million, financed by the Spanish government, Spain’s credit export agency and the Kenyan government.

The African Development Bank, Standard Bank, Nedbank, the European Investment Bank, Dutch development banks DEG and FMO, and French DFI Proparco are providing around €498 million of debt and mezzanine financing.

The agreement is the second to be announced this week in connection with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum. On Wednesday, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) said it would provide $400 million in debt financing for the Redstone Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project, a 100MW facility currently being developed by US-based SolarReserve and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power in South Africa’s Northern Cape.