Investing in Africa’s largest wind project

We’ve come a long way since we first started investing in renewable energy, committing more than $2 billion to 22 clean energy projects, and broadening our portfolio to include new regions like Africa. Since investing in the continent’s largest solar project, we’ve continued to see a big opportunity in fast-growing markets with rich renewable energy resources, where both the need and the potential are great. In fact, many countries are turning to renewables to help connect the nearly two-thirds of Africans that don’t have power today.

Today, we’re committing to invest in the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Northern Kenya, our second clean energy investment in Africa. When complete, Lake Turkana will bring 310 megawatts of clean energy onto Kenya’s grid—enough to power more than two million households across the country. Lake Turkana will help bring much needed capacity and stability to Kenya’s energy supply, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and emergency diesel generation while providing some of the most cost effective power in the country.

Google will join a diverse group of international investors in Lake Turkana, including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government’s development finance institution, and Vestas, which is also supplying the turbines for the wind farm. We will purchase Vestas’ 12.5% stake in Lake Turkana once it comes online, becoming the first U.S. private investor to support the project.

Vestas v52 photo #3 - courtesy of Vestas.jpg
Lake Turkana will use wind turbines like these, supplied by Vestas (photo courtesy of Vestas)

Kenya ranks among the world’s fastest-growing economies and has goals of universal energy access and increasing capacity of the grid by 5GW by the end of the decade. Lake Turkana can help meet these goals. It offers one of the best wind resources in the world in terms of speed and consistency, and once operational, will deliver capacity equivalent to about 15% of Kenya’s current grid. It will also spur additional energy development in the region through a 266 mile transmission line that is being constructed to support the project. This transmission line will act as a backbone for the Kenyan grid and enable further geothermal capacity to be developed in the country’s Rift Valley.

As an investor in both the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind farm projects in Africa, we are as optimistic as ever about the potential for these investments to accelerate progress toward a future of clean energy. These efforts not only make business sense, they can help accelerate the deployment of renewable energy globally— including in emerging markets like Kenya, where there is an opportunity to have a transformative impact on the energy grid.

Posted by Rick Needham, Energy & Sustainability Director