A Swedish firm that wanted to construct Africa’s largest wind power plant in Malindi at a cost of Sh253 billion has relocated the investment to Tanzania, citing frustration by Kenyan authorities.
VR Holding AB had last year expressed interest in building a 600-megawatt (MW) wind farm in the Indian Ocean waters bordering Ras Ngomeni in Malindi, but Ministry of Energy officials turned down the request citing lack of a framework for renewable energy projects of that scale besides low demand for electricity in the country.
The firm’s executives said they have now switched their focus to Tanzania, which shares the Indian Ocean coastline.
“We have opted to look at offshore solutions for Tanzania,” Victoria Rikede, an executive at the company said.
“Kenya is proving to be a very difficult place and besides the grid is too weak to absorb all the power produced and therefore mini-grids is the solution for now,” she added.
Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has recently been losing mega investments to Tanzania, including a crude pipeline deal with Uganda.
Tuesday, Ministry of Energy officials reckoned that a huge power plant would leave the country with excess power that will only force consumers to pay billions of shillings annually for electricity not used.
This would dim the government’s quest to deliver cheaper power through renewable sources.
Documents seen by the Business Daily show that Kenyan authorities, upon receiving the application, had directed the Swedish company to construct a smaller capacity project. “The company was to give us a proposal for a smaller capacity plant of 50 megawatts. They are yet to do so,” said Isaac Kiva, the director of renewable energy at the ministry.
The Malindi offshore location was identified by the World Bank, according to the Swedish firm’s executives.
They put the cost of generating electricity from the offshore wind farm at €3.5 million (Sh423 million) per megawatt.
This means the 600 megawatt offshore wind park would cost a total of Sh253.8 billion, in what would be the single most expensive private-funded project in East Africa.