Mombasa Cement to build 36MW wind farm at Vipingo plant

Mombasa Cement is preparing to build a 36MW wind farm by its plant in Vipingo. Power from the unit will be used for the company’s cement plant and sold to Kenya Power, according to the Daily Nation newspaper. The project will consist of 12 3MW turbines and it is estimated to cost US$2.5m. The cement plant is also planning upgrades at a cost of US$72m.

Mombasa Cement is set to build a 36 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Kilifi for its own use and sale to Kenya Power.

The project, which consists of 12 turbines of 3MW each, will cost an estimated Sh260 million, according to regulatory filings submitted by the cement manufacturer.

The wind park will be build on a section of the 1,200 acres of land Mombasa Cement owns in Vipingo, on which it already operates a clinker factory that feeds its main plant in Athi River.

This project is the latest in a string of wind farms being installed across the country as investors rush to cash in on Kenya Power’s appetite for cheaper electricity and the government’s undertaking to boost installed capacity.

“The electricity generated from the wind farm will be evacuated via overhead cables to an existing sub-station within Mombasa Cement premises for feeding into the national grid,” the firm says in an environmental regulatory filings.

The firm entered the cement business in 2012, and has been squaring it out for market share with rivals such as ARM Cement, Bamburi Cement, East African Portland Cement, National Cement and Savannah Cement.

Mombasa Cement’s Athi River factory has an annual capacity of 1.6 million tonnes, which is set to increase following plans to expand the Vipingo installation at a cost of Sh7.5 billion.

But even as the firm expands, it is now looking to earn revenue as an independent power producer (IPP) and extract the most value from the expansive and strategically located piece of land it owns.

“This land is at an elevation of between seven and 15 meters above the ocean and there is a steep cliff at its eastern edge towards the ocean. This makes designing of an onshore wind farm less complex,” the filings stated.

“The landscape can be characterised as flat… which makes its accessibility relatively convenient and movement of turbines during installation, service and maintenance relatively convenient.”

Kenya’s renewable energy market has recently attracted dozens of local and multinational investors, who are constructing solar farms, wind parks and geothermal wells.

This is in response to the government’s call for private investors to develop clean energy plants as part of the country’s goal to add 5,000MW to the national grid by 2020.

Lake Turkana Wind Project (LTWP), which will be the largest wind plant in Africa, is currently under construction in Marsabit and is expected to produce 310MW when completed in June 2017.

Peak demand

Electricity from the Sh69.7 billion wind farm will cost Sh8.6 per unit (8.5 US cents), nearly a third of diesel-generated power.

KenGen is developing a 400MW multibillion-shilling wind power farm in Meru while Nairobi-based Bluesea Energy also plans to generate 400MW of wind power in Meru, Isiolo and Lambwe Valley in South Nyanza (100MW).

China Machinery Engineering Corporation early last year clinched the Sh22.6 billion contract to develop a 100MW wind farm belonging to Kajiado-based Kipeto Energy.

Kenya’s peak demand for electricity stands at 1,618MW, lagging the rapid growth of generating capacity that is now 2,333 MW. Wind contributes just one per cent of consumed power, geothermal (43 per cent), hydro (35 per cent) while the expensive thermal contributes 18 per cent.

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