Examining the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya and contextualizing its significance within the broader framework of climate change mitigation and sustainable development, this blog analyses the same against the backdrop of Kenya’s susceptibility to climate related changes and the efficacy of the Lake Turkana Project in addressing the renewable energy and environmental needs of the region.
With a focus on Kenya’s participation in global climate initiatives, the blog dissects the legal foundations underpinning the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project. The exploration spans from constitutional mandates to international commitments, providing an examination of the regulatory framework supporting environmental responsibility. Additionally, the blog also elucidates the tangible benefits derived from the project, including enhanced electricity production, potential participation in the carbon market, and socio-economic growth.
Lake Turkana Wind Farm Power Project is constructed in the Loiyangalani District of Marsabit West County in Kenya, covering an area of 162 Km2. This site was selected for the strength of its wind resources along with its remoteness, unobstructed environmental landscape, road accessibility, security of the area, and low population density—with the project area inhabited by roughly 1,000 nomadic pastoralists. It is the largest single private investment in history at a cost of €623 million (US$685 million). Being the largest wind farm in Africa, it is estimated to have added between 15% and 20% of Kenya’s electricity generating capacity.
Through the addition of reliable, low-cost wind energy, the project continues to contribute to the country’s development objectives while enhancing its resilience to combating climate change and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generated from fossil fuels.
Wind power also referred to as wind energy is the process by which wind is used to create or produce mechanical power or electricity. The process includes wind turbines converting kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. The wind blows the blades of the turbine, attached to a rotor. The rotor then spins a generator creating electricity.
The largest wind farm is located in China and it is known as the Jiuquan Wind Power Base. It has a planned installed capacity of 20GW and features 7,000 wind turbines installed across the Jiuquan, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Xinjiang, Jiangsu and Shandong provinces of Gansu, China. The implementation of the project was for the purpose of generating renewable energy.
Among other benefits , the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project has led to the creation of job opportunities, improved business opportunities, mitigate human health from harmful air pollutants, improve access to food, health facilities, and water through corporate social responsibility programs, increase income generating opportunities and improve local education and contributed positively to the livelihoods of communities around the area.
Statement of Problem
Climate change is a threat that poses great risk to the sustainable development goals that Kenya is embracing. Kenya being a financial, trade and hub of communication in East Africa mainly depends on rain fed agriculture and tourism, which are all threatened by climate change which causes extreme weather events.
In Kenya climate change has led to adverse effects like frequent droughts. Premised on frequent droughts, wild animals like lions and elephants have moved from their eco systems to human dwelling places in search of food and water. This has led to human wildlife conflict as elephants have destroyed farms trampling on food crops while in search of food and water. Lions have also killed sheep and goats. Animals are being killed by residents in Kenya thereby causing recurring human wildlife conflict.
Due to the drought that climate change has caused, most people who practice pastoralism have incurred huge losses and their livelihoods have been affected adversely rendering them paupers. Most of the pastoralists have lost their livestock due to lack of food and water.
Climate change has also caused floods which have further damaged human life, property and the economy. It is estimated that in the year 2000 drought cost an estimated $2.8 billion. Climate change has also led to forest fires, therefore destroying ecosystems, damage to fisheries, reduced hydropower generation, reduced industrial production and reduced water supplies.
Climate change has also led to rise in sea levels, in the coastal areas of like Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu. The rise in sea level has occasioned floods and displacement of the population around these areas.
Mitigating Climate Change
- Develop and operate a wind farm to generate sustainable energy that facilitates national economic development.
- Manage the associated environmental and social risks and impacts in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
- Help the country to address power shortage and enhance further economic growth.
Legal Framework for the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project
The State shall:
(a) ensure sustainable exploitation, utilization, management and conservation of the environment and natural resources, and ensure the equitable sharing of the accruing benefits;
The Constitution of Kenya also provides that international law including the Conventions that Kenya has ratified, shall be part of the law of Kenya.
The Purpose of the Act is stated to be for the objects and development, management, implementation and regulation purposes. of mechanisms to enhance climate change resilience and low carbon development for the sustainable development of Kenya.
The primary purpose of the convention is to establish methods to minimize global warming particularly the emission of the greenhouse gases. The ultimate objective of the Convention is the stabilization of the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement connected to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is the setting of binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Kyoto Protocol has in place a rigorous monitoring and verification system which has also incorporated a compliance system for the purpose of ensuring transparency and holding parties to account. Countries actual emissions are monitored, and exact records of the trades carried out must be kept.
Lake Turkana Wind Power Project has complied with both national laws and international laws as highlighted above.
The project is implemented as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the owners of the SPV being investors from Denmark, Norway, and Kenya. The estimated cost of the project amounted to about EUR 585million ($728million). As stated in the preceding the project’s main objectives is for the promotion of clean energy, provision of significant infrastructure to the extremely poor and remote area where the site is located and provision of low-cost power in the country.
Benefits of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project
- Improve electricity production with the average supply.
- Potential for carbon market.
- Promotion of economic growth in the country.
- Contribution to government revenue
- Well-structured Corporate Social Responsibility programs in the community that will ensure livelihoods are improved.
- Well-Improved electricity Production : The project will add 310MW into the national grid representing 25% of total power production in Kenya. The power will be cheaper compared to hydropower. Hydro power which is the main source of power supply in Kenya has encountered a lot of challenges premised on climate change which has had adverse effects like drought. This has in tandem led to power cuts and rationing because of low water. The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project will alleviate the power outages through enabling constant power supply.
- Potential Carbon Market : Carbon emissions trading refers to a cap-and-trade regulatory programme designed to limit carbon emissions resulting from industrial activities. In assessment to the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, it was determined that it can meet all the necessary requirements to become a carbon project under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This will be achieved through CO2 emission reduction by replacing electricity generated by fossil fuel fired power plant connected to the national grid. LTWP generated emission reductions of around 1,270,891tonnes CO2 during the first monitoring period from the 20th of May 2014 to the 31st of December 2020. The project is now identifying markets to commercialize carbon offset in the future to continue to boost the profile of a green economy in Kenya.
- Promotion of Economic Growth : Lake Turkana Wind Power Project will spur the economic growth in Kenya through generation of power which will boost the Rural Electrification Program. The generation of power will also cost lower than that of hydro power. This will ease the operation of businesses and industries. Subsequently this will enable economic growth and an increase in revenue generation in the country.
- Community Engagement :The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project continues to engage the community and address the prevailing needs.
- Drought Mitigation : The LTWP has a program known as the Water Bowser Program which has provided support to the community especially during the prolonged period of drought that was experienced recently in Kenya.
- Solving Food Scarcity :The LTWP has begun a school feeding program with aim of feeding school going children so as to keep them consistently in school especially during periods of drought.
The LTWP is also contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals in a large way. For example, LTWP has contributed towards the Sustainable Development Goal number three on good health and well-being through construction of dispensaries like the Sarima dispensary which has enabled the residents access quality health care and reduced mortality rate.Additionally, the LTWP is contributing towards mitigation of climate change through clean energy generation and reduction of CO2 emissions.
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) is personal and does not reflect those of the organizations and or institutions they are associated with.
Authors and Designation:
- Mr. John Gutheka Karuri is based in Kenya and holds an LLB (Honors) from Kenyatta University School of Law.
- Mr. Joel B. Kyndiah is a third-year B.A. LL.B student at NUJS, Kolkata.
Editorial Team:Managing Editor: Naman Anand
Editor in Chief: Abeer Tiwari and Muskaan Agarwal
Senior Editor: Kopal Kesarwani
Associate Editor: Joel Blah Kyndiah
Junior Editor: Nalin Arora