Drought Brings New Importance to Kenya's Largest Wind Farm
photo: Patrick Finnegan via flickr.
It's been nearly a year since we first heard about Kenya's largest wind farm in the planning, the 300 MW Lake Turkana Wind Farm, but a newish piece in the Washington Post highlighted by Climate Progress makes a critical connection. Ongoing drought in East Africa, a place where hydropower is a large part of the mix, makes wind farms even more crucial:
Power shortages have forced blackouts from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Johannesburg this year, but the shortages have been especially acute in Kenya. A prolonged drought has dried up riverbeds and crippled the country's hydroelectric plants. Officials have imported fossil fuels as an emergency stopgap, raising concerns among environmentalists. Energy prices have soared.
The effects have been felt from the industrial centers to the sprawling shantytowns and the suburbs of the capital. Rationing has brought rolling blackouts to Nairobi, and manufacturers have been forced to scale down production because of power cuts.
photo: Bitterjug.com via flickr.
Climate Change to Play Havoc With Hydropower
Pay attention to this sort of thing, not just in Africa but for hydro projects in Asia, in parts of the United States, anywhere where you read about large changes in precipitation levels. Nations like China that are going gangbusters for new hydro projects -- more close to the start of this story, Ethiopia has announced 10 new ones as well -- are likely to see their output restricted, sometimes severely, in coming decades.
Money wasted that could've been spent on more decentralized approaches, like solar panels, but ones which politicians have a harder time pointing to and saying "I did that."