Google to buy 12.5 pct stake in Kenya wind project


International IT Company, Google is set to buy a 12 per cent stake in the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya, a project which is expected to generate 15 per cent of the nation’s energy.

Currently wind power generates a little over one per cent of Kenya’s energy but after the project is complete, the expectation is that it will increase exponentially with capacity of 310 megawatts (MW).

“Africa is a great place to invest and energy is one of the key demands for the market, there is a lot of business growth, it’s a fast growing economy and we need to have more renewable energy,” said Joe Mucheru, Google Energy Lead for Africa.

Mucheru says the cost of thermal energy, diesel generation is too high especially with the growing economy and he believes it is a good investment for Google because it allows them to be involved in a transformative project that will provide roads and lines for Kenya and that it is in line with its existing energy investments into other markets.

“Contributions will range from first of all just clean energy which will reduce the cost of energy in the country, provide sustainability, transformation of  the economy in terms of cost or what we will see in the Turkana region itself.

This is the largest wind investment within Africa and it is hoped it will attract more investment into the energy sector.

Mucheru says it has invested in 22 projects, two of which are in Africa ie, in South Africa, the Jasper 96 MW solar project, which is also one of the largest projects in Africa.

“We have invested alongside other international investors and the government that is building the transmission line – it’s about 40 million dollars, about 4 billion shillings and it’s a start and we hope this will help us invest more as we continue to have our presence here in Africa.

Google has been investing in Africa for the last eight and a half years according to Mucheru and while it does not have any new projects to announce, the company is keeping its eye open for any projects that meet its agenda in terms of “return and impact”.

“We are here for the long haul, it’s not a one-off, we are broadly looking at any opportunities but primarily in the renewable energy sector,” said Mucheru

“We are passionate about clean energy and we do hope that this is what we are going to be able to get.”