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Lake Turkana Wind Power
Lake Turkana Wind Power

Lake Turkana Wind Power onshore wind farm is set to provide 300MW of reliable, low-cost wind power to the Kenyan national grid by the end of 2016.

Comprising 365 wind turbines, Lake Turkana Wind Power will be Africa’s largest wind power plant. It is expected to save Kenya around €115 million in fuel imports annually.

The plant will provide the equivalent of around 20 per cent of the country’s current installed electricity generation capacity. When the substation goes live, it will enable the electrification of towns in the remote Turkana County, giving access to electric light, refrigeration and other enabling technologies. 

RXPE has been appointed as the EPC partner for the project’s dynamic reactive compensation plant, which incorporates a ±300MVAr utility grade Maxivar™ STATCOM.

Challenge

All wind power projects present challenges surrounding grid code compliance. However, a project of this nature and scale takes things to another level.

While wind power cannot be considered baseload (always available), Lake Turkana is not far off meeting the requirements of baseload sources. The site experiences almost continuous wind, averaging at around 27 miles per hour. Consequently, the turbines will be generating power most of the time. It follows that reactive power compensation availability must be as close to 100 per cent as possible. 

Achieving this goal brings significant technical challenges, but they are only one part of equation. Turkana County’s isolation and lack of infrastructure adds another layer of complexity. It’s very difficult to deliver highly-engineered power electronic equipment to the region without damage in transit.

Solution

RXPE’s in-house development team has been working closely with Lake Turkana Wind Power to develop innovative solutions and approaches. The goal is to ensure the windfarm remains connected to provide a reliable source of clean energy. This is achieved by injecting and absorbing reactive power into the local distribution system. 

The Maxivar™ STATCOM has been selected as the lead technology for the project’s dynamic reactive compensation needs. Purpose designed for utility transmission applications, it is the most advanced and reliable large-scale STATCOM currently available, with an installed rating of ±320MVAr. It enables rapid response to disturbances and smooth voltage control over a wide range of operating conditions. Substantial built-in redundancy ensures availability exceeds 99.6%. 

RXPE has previously installed dynamic reactive compensation technologies in several African nations, including Mozambique and South Africa. The team has a proven track record in the safe and timely delivery of advanced power electronic solutions in remote areas with poor infrastructure. 

Current status

Construction of the dynamic reactive compensation plant began in 2015 and commissioning is expected by the end of 2016.

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