How big wind turbines are and how much space do they require ?

Wind turbines come in many different sizes, depending on the amount of energy that they are required to produce. Generally, the larger the wind turbine then the greater the amount of electricity produced. For most modern commercial turbines the tubular steel towers range from 80 to 90 meters in height.

There are different spacing requirements for different types of turbines, therefore the amount of space required by a wind farm depends on the number and type of turbine being deployed. A typical 50MW wind power project utilizing 2MW turbines would approximately require a minimum of 2000 acres.

How long does it take to build a wind farm and how long do they last ?

The inception of a typical Kenergy 50MW project to the commissioning of the power plant would approximately take 5 years. Most of the time is involved with acquiring the appropriate permits and licences. Activities running parallel would include wind measurement campaign, power purchase agreement negotiation, finalizing financial arrangements etc.

In addition to the development work, Kenergy shall conduct environmental impact assestment studies that satisfy both World Bank standards and the National Environmental Management Authority.

Wind turbines typically last around 20-25 years, which is the typical lifespan of a wind farm. At the end of the project, the wind farm will be decomissioned and the land restored to its previous condition.

How much electricity can a wind farm produce ?

The amount of electricity that a wind farm is able to produce depends on the size of the wind turbines, the wind speed and the efficiency with which the specifically designed turbines are able to convert wind energy into electrical energy.

At a wind capacity factor of 35%, a typical Kenergy 50MW project is estimated to produce an output of 153,400MWh per year. In kenya, the average domestic consumption of electricity is 9871 KWh per year. Hence, a 50MW Kenergy project would provide electricity to approximately 155,500 households in Kenya.

By increasing the amount of energy available on the national grid, we are supporting the Government of Kenya's Vision 2030 goals to diversify its energy sources and meet Kenya's growing energy requirements.

 

1: Source: Kenya Power Annual accounts and statistics

Is wind power good for the economy ?

Wind energy is good for the economy as it reduces dependence on fuel imports at unpredictable prices. Wind energy technology unlike fossil fuels has the ability to deliver electricity at an energy cost certainty for a period of upto 25 years.

Wind generated power comes at zero fuel cost and zero carbon dioxide cost unlike most traditional energy sources. In addition, wind power can also lower electricity prices and bring more competition to the market.

Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa as well as Kenya are now leading wind power development in the African continent.

Do wind turbines affect human health ?

An increasing quantity of independent research indicates that wind turbines are not harmful to human health. The wind industry is committed to engagement with experts in science, medicine and occupational and environmental health to monitor on-going credible research in the area of wind turbines and human health. 

In January 2012, wind energy got a clean bill of health from a panel of independent experts established by the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and of Public Health. In addition, Health Canada published the results of a national study in July 2012 on wind turbines, sound and human health; and concluded that wind energy is one of the safest sources of electricity.

Wind energy is one of the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly energy sources. It emits no greenhouse gases or air pollutants. It emits no particles of any kind, and certainly no particles which are carcinogenic and severely affect human health, as do fossil fuels.

 

Related websites:

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP)

Health Canada

What other environmental benefits does wind power bring ?

Wind power has a light footprint. Its operation does not produce harmful emissions or any hazardous waste such as mercury and air pollutants like smog-creating nitrogen oxides, acid rain-forming sulphur dioxide and particulate deposits. It does not deplete natural resources in the way fossil fuels do, nor does it cause environmental damage through resource extraction, transport and waste management.

Given the fact that water scarcity is pressing and it will be exacerbated by climate change and population growth, wind energy is key to preserving water resources. Unlike fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, wind energy has one of the lowest water consumption footprints.