Kenya to launch Africa’s biggest wind farm

The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya, lying in a natural corridor at the edge of the Rift Valley that has been dubbed ‘the windiest place on earth.’ (AFP)
Updated 19 July 2019

Kenya to launch Africa’s biggest wind farm

  • Turbines specially engineered to handle the fierce gusts of northern Kenya’s Turkana County

LAKE TURKANA: Kenya is to launch Africa’s biggest wind power plant, a mammoth project in a gusty stretch of remote wilderness that now provides nearly a fifth of the country’s energy needs.
The $680-million project, a sprawling 365-turbine wind farm on the eastern shores of Lake Turkana at Loiyangalani will deliver 310 megawatts of renewable power into the national grid of East Africa’s most dynamic economy.
The largest private investment in Kenya’s history, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project was beset with delays and took nearly a decade to rise from the arid landscape 600 kilometers (372 miles) north of Nairobi.
But now the Turkana project, lying in a natural corridor dubbed “the windiest place on earth,” will harness this endless power at low cost, officials say.
“It has been an incredible journey. Clearly (this is) a very historic day,” Rizwan Fazal, the executive director of the Lake Turkana Power Project said ahead of the opening ceremony. “It sends a signal Kenya is ripe for projects.”
The wind energy scheme, far more ambitious in scale than rivals elsewhere on the continent, has been closely watched as a case study of investing in renewables in Africa, where demand for energy is soaring as economies grow and populations swell.
In Kenya — which relies heavily on hydropower and geothermal energy — power supply is unreliable and costly, hindering business as energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing look to take off.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has previously committed to 100 percent renewable energy for Kenya by 2020 — a pledge the government has been accused of betraying with plans to build a coal-fired power plant off the coast at Lamu.
That project — deemed unnecessary by experts — has been stalled by legal challenges.

FASTFACT

The 365-turbine wind farm will deliver 310 megawatts of renewable power.

The Lake Turkana wind plant, connected through a 428-kilometer power line to the national grid in Suswa, is now generating upwards of 15 percent of Kenya’s entire installed electricity capacity.
The windmills, manufactured by Danish company Vestas, had to be brought one-by-one overland from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, some 1,200 kilometers to the east. In addition, over 200 kilometers of road leading to the site had to be upgraded.
The nearly-50 meter turbines were engineered to handle the fierce gusts that tear through the “Turkana Corridor,” a wind tunnel that generates optimal conditions for renenwable power all year round.
The project involved years of planning and construction, but the turbines were each raised in under 24 hours, with the last raised in March 2017, several months ahead of schedule.
But difficulties in financing the transmission line, being laid by state-owned power company Ketraco, and problems acquiring land, meant this landmark project was unable to be connected to the grid for another 18 months — in September 2018.
The wind farm attracted a $200 million loan from the European Investment Bank, the EU’s lending facility, as well as finance from a consortium of European and African companies.


Qantas to require COVID-19 vaccine on international flights

Updated 24 November 2020

Qantas to require COVID-19 vaccine on international flights

  • Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public
  • Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and fired 8,500 staff as it attempts to offset a $1.9 billion loss caused by the collapse in demand

SYDNEY: International travelers will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to fly with Australia’s Qantas, the company has said, the first major airline to suggest that such rules could become common across the industry.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said late Monday the Australian flag carrier would implement the measure once a coronavirus vaccine was made available to the public.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft,” he told Channel Nine.
“Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with COVID-19 in the market but certainly, for international visitors coming out (to Australia) and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”
Joyce predicted the rule would likely become standard practice around the world as governments and airlines currently consider the introduction of electronic vaccination passports.
Another major regional airline, however, said that it was too early to comment on what travel requirements might be when a vaccine becomes widely available.
“We don’t have any concrete plans to announce at this point on the vaccine as it is still in development and will take time to distribute,” a Korean Air representative told AFP.
Vaccination entry requirements are already widely used around the world, with many countries demanding travelers show they have been inoculated against yellow fever if they are coming from regions where that disease is endemic.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced late Monday it was in the “final stages” of developing a digital health pass that it says can be used to record COVID-19 tests or vaccinations and will “support the safe reopening of borders.”
“We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation,” IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said.
Australia’s borders have effectively been closed since March to curb the spread of the virus, which has already claimed more than a million lives worldwide.
The country has even limited the numbers of its own citizens allowed to return each week, leaving tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas.
The global airline industry has come under huge pressure from restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Qantas has grounded more than 200 planes and fired 8,500 staff as it attempts to offset a $1.9 billion loss caused by the collapse in demand for air travel.
A slew of other carriers has collapsed because of the pandemic, including Virgin Australia, Chilean-Brazilian airline LATAM and Britain’s Flybe.
The IATA said in October that after a predicted 66 percent drop in global air traffic this year, airlines’ revenues are expected to be down by 46 percent in 2021 compared to 2019.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia is seeking to create “travel bubbles” with other countries that have curbed the spread of the virus.
But the country is unlikely to fully reopen to international travelers until a vaccine is widely available.
The government also signaled in its recently released COVID-19 vaccination policy that Australia and other nations may introduce proof of inoculation as a condition of entry.
Australia has been relatively successful in containing the coronavirus, recording just over 27,800 cases and 907 deaths since the pandemic began.