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Africa's larges wind farm moves forward

Vestas Wind Systems A/S won an order to supply what the company says will be Africa’s biggest wind- power plant in a sign that clean-energy investments are picking up on the poorest continent.

Vestas received an order from Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd. for 365 of its 0.85-megawatt turbines, it said in a website statement. That’s the most machines the Copenhagen-based company has sold to a single plant. The project benefits from wind conditions that are among “the best in the world,” Chief Sales Officer Juan Araluce said today.

“This is the first time that the industry is able to articulate such a complex deal in Africa,” Araluce said by phone. “This will ease future projects and I’m sure it’s the first of many to come in Africa.” He declined to disclose the value of the order.

The project, to be built about 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) from the port city of Mombasa, would generate enough power to meet about 15 percent of the nation’s electricity demand. While about 420 kilometers of transmission lines will have to be built to connect it to the grid, the plant will save East Africa’s biggest economy about 150 million euros ($186 million) in fuel imports each year, Vestas said.

Desert, Lake

“Eastern and southern Africa are key markets for Vestas, and the Lake Turkana project will establish Kenya among the continent’s wind-energy leaders,” Christoph Vogel, president of Vestas Central Europe, said in the statement.

The combination of desert and lake climate results in strong and steady winds, with an average speed of 11.3 meters per second, Araluce said. Vestas is confident it can announce more deals in Africa in the next two years, he said.

Sub-Saharan Africa may this year add about 1.8 gigawatts of renewable-energy capacity, excluding large hydroelectric power plants, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in August. Investment in countries including South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia is estimated at $5.9 billion, and may reach $7.7 billion in 2016. Lake Turkana had been delayed by about three years because of difficulties in securing financing.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

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