In recent years, Google has earned a reputation for being a large investor in the development and sustainability of renewable energy. This morning, Google further enhanced its reputation by announcing its newest investment in a Kenyan wind power project that, when finished, will be the African continent’s largest wind farm.
The project is called the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project and began construction in July. It is hoped that the wind farm will generate 1,400 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy per year, which equates to about 15% of Kenya’s electricity consumption annually. The farm will house 365 wind turbines and will be spread along the coast of Lake Turkana.
The global wind energy company, Vestas, is in charge of installing the turbines, hopefully by early 2016, and will provide maintenance and repairs for the farm for 15 years. Vestas currently owns a 12.5% share in the project, and Google’s new investment will buy this stake once the farm opens in 2017.
The project is largest single private investment in the history of Kenya. According to Vestas, the project is one of the most innovative, efficient wind farms in the world, operating with a capacity factor of 60%. That is compared to existing wind farms with a capacity factor of less than 35%.
Lake Turkana is an ideal spot for the wind farm because the wind there blows consistently at speeds of more than 24 miles per hour.
The project could be great news for Kenya as the wind farm project proposes to save the African country more than $113 million per year in costs for imported fuel. The country now heavily relies on fossil fuels and hydropower.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is the latest in a long line of renewable energy investments for Google. The company recently invested in the Jasper Power Project, a solar plant in South Africa. The company has also invested in wind farms in many parts of the United States including Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Moreover, Google also launched its own online tool called Project Sunroof, which allows users to search their address to determine their available space for solar panels, the number of hours of sunlight the panels could generate and how much money users could save by transitioning to solar energy.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project represents Google’s 22nd renewable energy investment.