Hey guys, some Kenyan bloggers have done some background research on the Kenyan wind farm projects and there is some indication that the cost of the project has been doubled and is not going to be as effective as it sounds. Please follow the discussion here.
Consensus has been building for a Nuclear/ Geothermal power plant
Don’t invest in Wind Power. It’s too expensive, inefficient and undependable. The only way it survives in Europe and North America is through heavy governmental subsidies. Something that Kenya doesn’t have. Electric customers will end up paying two to three times for it when compared to other forms of generation. I read recently where a Wind Farm at Lake Turkana will provide 300 MW installed at a cost of over $800 million USD. This is about twice the cost of similar size “farms” in the US. I hope the contract includes transmission lines for the several hundred miles back to Nairobi. The 300MW is installed. You’ll be lucky to average 75MW or a 25% load factor. Spain has spent Billions (Euros, Pounds, Dollars…you name it) on wind power but it only provides about 12% of grid demand. What keeps Spain electrically afloat is their heavy investment in Natural Gas Combined Cycle (CC) plants that they began to construct at the same time as their investment in wind power. Spanish law requires the distributor, Red Electrica, to pay the wind power generator, 90% over the prevailing rate for conventional power…and to purchase all the wind power produced. Germany, also with a considerable wind power wattage, has determined that 50% of the time their wind machines only provide 11% or less of the grid’s demand. Observe the variability and undependability of wind power at online sites for Red Electrica at:https://demanda.ree.es/generacion_acumulada.html Keep in mind that Spain has over 16,000 MW installed of wind power. Eolica is wind and Resto. Reg. Esp. is what they call Special Regime and includes Co-Generation and Solar Power. Then go here:https://demanda.ree.es/demanda.html to observe the generation curve for each type of power source for the day. Click on the color coded pie chart for each type. Note for Resto.Reg.Esp. that the “hump” is the daily solar power output. For a comparison look at the Ireland daily wind power output here:http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/
Click through the Previous and Next Day choices to see the variability of the wind at one of the windiest countries on the planet. Ireland has about 1300MW wind power installed.
Spain utilizes its Hydro power for Peaking loads and to fill in the gaps when the wind isn’t blowing. CC is used for load following and some base load. Nuclear is baseload only along with Co-Generation.
If you looked at the Resto.Reg.Esp. and the hump you can see that solar is a good load follower up to mid-day. It’s not a waste (as I believe wind energy is) but it’s very expensive. Last year, Arizona State University conducted a study of the cost of various types of power sources and concluded that solar was approximately 3.5 to 4 times as expensive as either Nuclear or Coal. They didn’t compare it to wind power because wind power is not much of an option in the State of Arizona.
If solar is chosen then go with thermal. Photovoltaic is very expensive and upsets the grid too easily when clouds go over. With solar thermal there is a thermal inertia that smoothes the rise or fall in output.
In my opinion, there are three reasons why Spain has been able to incorporate so much wind power into their grid. 1) They have an abundant supply of Hydro power that can be dispatched with minutes, if not seconds, that can follow voltage changes caused by varying wind; 2) Their inclusion of CC plants (built about 24,000 MW since 2001) makes up for whatever Hydro can’t do and 3) They’ve installed one of the more sophisticated centralized grid control centers in the world that can control the outputs of their wind farms.
Natural Gas costs can only increase in the future as every country, every utility, and their aunt, tries to comply with some green agenda. Coal of course is cheapest but it certainly will not meet any carbon reduction goals. Some engineers have called Wind Power simply a variation on Natural Gas Power in that most of the time the utility will utilize CCs, similar to what Spain uses their Hydro power for.
My advice would be to go with as much Geothermal and Nuclear as you can get. Some of the newer reactors are designed for load following. Don’t spend vast amounts on wind or solar. Maybe the Europeans and North Americans can throw away money on expensive and inefficient sources but you can’t. Don’t try new schemes. Only go with the proven. Again, maybe China can afford to try new reactors and such, but you can’t. Go modular if you can and start small. If you need some load following or peaking don’t be afraid to install some CC plants. They might not be completely green but they’re better than oil or coal. And remember…while you’re agonizing over whether to buy that one CC plant because it produces a little CO2 the Chinese are constructing about one new coal plant a week!
My allocation would be:
25% Hydro (Use it only for load following and peaking)
25% Geothermal (or as much as you can get to replace Nuclear)
Plus…Keep some of your old oil plants ready because the reactors are down about once a year or two for refueling. About 30 days.
Tucson, Arizona, USA