- Finnfund, a Finnish development financier and impact investor, has entered into an agreement to sell its shares in Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited (LTWP) in Kenya, owning and operating the largest wind farm in Africa.
- Finnfund has been a shareholder in the company ever since the construction of the wind farm began in 2014.
The shares will be acquired by Climate Finance Partnership (CFP), a public-private finance vehicle managed by BlackRock Alternatives. The agreement has been signed, and closing is expected during Q2 of 2023. LTWP was the biggest equity investment made by Finnfund at the time of the commitment. It also was one of the biggest private investments in the history of Kenya. Together with the return paid by the company, the transaction will more than double the initial investment made by Finnfund.
“This is a natural next step for us”, says Finnfund’s Associate Director Helena Teppana, who has been closely involved in the project since the beginning and in the company’s Board of Directors since 2014. “We were there to share the initial risk of the construction phase and the start of operations. Today, it has been proved that the wind farm lives up to the expectations and generates revenue from providing Kenya with low-cost green power. It is time for us to move on.” Finnfund gets its funding from the State of Finland and the private capital markets, as well as retained earnings from its investments. All profits get recycled into new projects that drive sustainable development. “Going forward, we will continue investing in renewable energy projects in the continent”, says Teppana. Renewable energy is one of Finnfund’s focus sectors. Recent investments include, for example, a geothermal power project in Nakuru County, Kenya.
David Giordano, Global Head of Climate Infrastructure at BlackRock Alternatives, comments: “We are excited for CFP’s first investment to be in Kenya, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, and we look forward to working with our partners in the region to source future developments that not only capitalize on the historic investment opportunity presented by the energy transition, but also contribute to local economies.”
Exceptional wind conditions
Lake Turkana wind farm was connected to the national grid in 2018. Today, it meets up to appr. 14% of Kenya’s current electricity demand, serving 1.2 million homes. The electricity generated by LTWP has reduced Kenya’s reliance on fuel imports, helping the country save more than €281 million between 2018 and 2021. As one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, Kenya’s total power demand is expected to grow at the rate of almost 5% p.a. due to increasing urbanization, rural electrification and rapid development.
“The project has exceeded our expectations in many ways”, says Teppana. “Despite its size and rural location, the project was built on time and on budget. During operation, we have seen the wind farm reach an exceptional annual average capacity factor of 60+%. Some days for some hours, the wind farm has generated green power to the Kenyan grid at 100% of capacity. This is undeniably one of the best wind sites in the world”, says Teppana.
In addition to power generation, LTWP acts as a catalyst for development in the area. Since inception, LTWP has been dedicated to ensuring that the local communities benefit from the project. As part of this commitment, LTWP established Winds of Change (WoC), through which LTWP undertake sustainable community development projects. The primary focus of WoC is to enhance access to education, health and water, as well as support miscellaneous community development activities. During the peak of its construction phase, the project employed approximately 2,500 people in a very remote, rural area. Over 400 jobs are permanent. The 200-kilometre-long road built for the project has cut travel time to the nearest town from days to hours. This has particularly benefited local fishermen, who are now able to sell fresh fish at a higher price.
- Construction of the Lake Turkana Wind Farm began in 2014
- The wind farm was connected to the national grid in 2018
- The wind farm comprises 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kilowatts
- Wind power facility with its 310 MW capacity meets up to approximately 14 % of Kenya’s current electricity demand
- Finnfund has been a shareholder in the company ever since the construction began in 2014
Author: Bryan Groenendaal