In a bid to reduce cost of Electricity in Kenya,Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETRACO) officially launched the Loiyangalani-Suswa transmission infrastructure project a Landmark renewable Energy project in Africa.
In a solemn event graced by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, Energy Cabinet Secretary Hon Charles Keter and Energy Principal Secretary Eng. Joseph Njoroge. Others in attendance included the KETRACO Board Chairman, Hon. Eng. James Rege, and senior management led by the Chief Executive, FCPA Fernandes Barasa among other dignitaries.
The launch of the Sh28 billion project will see an increase in electricity supply, quality, reliability and a reduction of power cost in the country. It was funded by the Government (75 per cent) and the Spanish Government (25 per cent) and is set to transmit 310MW, approximately 15 per cent of the country’s installed capacity.
The project that compliments the Government’s commitment to increase electricity generation to 5,000MW is part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 flagship projects. Speaking at the launch, President Uhuru Kenyatta said electricity access is critical for achieving the Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
“The Big Four Agenda together with the Strategic Development Goals, or SDGs, are in line with KETRACO’s mandate as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2015/2016 – 2019-2020 that identifies national development challenges in the electricity sub-sector that need to be addressed for Kenya to achieve its goal of being a middle-income, industrialized and prosperous economy,” the President said.
With the 310MW added into the national grid, the President ordered a reduction on the cost of electricity to SMEs, noting that the high cost of power was a major challenge to their efforts of scaling up business. The project will harness the efficient, clean and affordable source of wind energy, from Loiyangalani area via the Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant (LTWP).
Energy CS Hon Charles Keter commended President Kenyatta, PS Ministry of Energy Eng. Joseph Njoroge, National Treasury, Presidential Delivery Unit and Office of the President for their guidance towards the completion of the project, adding that through the project, the country will save at least $150 million annually on fuel imports used to generate electricity. He said the timely completion had saved the exchequer a monthly penalty of Sh1B.
Eng. Joseph Njoroge said the energy policy had ensured adequate, quality, cost effective and affordable supply of energy to meet development needs, while conserving the environment. “Kenya is advantageously located where wind, solar and geothermal sources are available. As such, KETRACO, in partnership with sector players within the Ministry of Energy, is embarking on projects that will be used in the transmission of high voltage clean energy, nationwide and regionally,” the PS added.
The Sh70 Billion wind farm sits on 40,000 acres of communal land and is the largest private investment in Kenya’s history comprising of 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850kW.
The fibre optic cable strung along the Loiyangalani-Suswa Transmission Line will promote broadband connectivity in areas it traverses enabling faster connectivity to voice, data and video services, security surveillance and other government digital services.
The 400kV Loiyangalani Suswa Transmission Line is 438Km long, and evacuates 310MW of power from Lake Turkana Wind Power to Suswa substation in Kajiado County. It traverses six counties that include Marsabit, Samburu, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Narok and Kajiado.Speaking at the same event, KETRACO Chairman Eng. James Rege said all KETRACO’s transmission lines carry internet fibre – Optical Ground Wire (OPGW), used for data and communication purposes. “OPGW is the most reliable connectivity compared to buried cable. Thus, KETRACO fibre strengthens Internet Protocols (IP) networks by providing reliable and resilient redundancy, which is critical in any network,” he said, adding that KETRACO had signed a 15- year partnership with Liquid Telecom to commercialize its fibre network.
The construction of the Suswa substation began in 2012 while that of Loiyangalani substation began in 2015 with Siemens S.A.S (France) as the contractor. The initial completion date was October 10, 2016 but was extended due to challenges from the contractor’s end. KETRACO later signed a contract with the Consortium of NARI Group Corporation and Power China Guizhou Engineering Company Limited for the completion of the line before August 31, 2018.
KETRACO Managing Director FCPA Fernandes Barasa said the lessons learned from the project would help them focus on the completion of other grid, strengthening access, regional inter-connectors and evacuation transmission projects.
He noted that the transmission line rated at 1,200MW would take care of future generation plants along the area it traverses, which will comprise of solar, geothermal and other wind farms, without necessitating construction of another transmission line. Since incorporation in 2008, KETRACO has completed transmission lines totalling 2,315Km, offering more than 99.9 per cent reliability. Currently 2,000km lines are under construction.
On his part,the KETRACO Managing Director thanked President Uhuru, the Energy CS and PS and other stakeholders for their contribution towards the prompt completion of the project, noting that the President keenly followed their progress ensuring its steering was a concerted effort by all government agencies and departments involved.