Historic wind farm spins into action in Tanzania
Tanzania reaches renewable energy milestone as country’s first wind farm comes online
Tanzania’s energy sector has broken new ground after the country’s first ever wind farm started generating electricity as part of its start up testing procedures.
Construction of the 2.4MW plant was completed last month, and was only made possible thanks to a US$1.2m loan from the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP), which concluded the financial structure for the project.
Following mandatory pre-commissioning tests at the project site in Mwenga, situated in the Mufindi District of Tanzania’s Iringa region, the first of the wind farm’s three turbines spun into action at 13.00 EAT on Friday, 5th June.
The turbine is expected to initially operate at a pre-set low production rate, before being gradually increased to full capacity over the next few weeks in line with the commissioning procedures. The other two turbines are expected to come online in a similar manner during the course of the next two weeks.
Once fully operational, the wind farm will provide much-needed energy security to customers of a rapidly expanding private rural grid network developed and operated by project developer Rift Valley Energy Group.
Until now, the network – which is the first of its kind in Tanzania – has been powered by a 4MW hydropower plant that has been operational since 2012. The hydro plant provides clean, grid-quality electricity to more than 4,500 homes and businesses across 32 villages, with any surplus power sold to TANESCO under a hydro power purchase agreement.
The wind farm will now enable Rift Valley Energy Group to continue with its network expansion plans and connect an anticipated 1,500 more customers over the next two years. The farm will also serve to ensure there is always sufficient generation capacity available to its growing rural grid, even during the dry season when the hydro plant’s generation capacity significantly reduces as a result of the region’s seasonality of rainfall.
Geoff Sinclair, Managing Director of Camco Clean Energy, REPP’s investment manager, said: “Wind energy has the potential to be a major contributor to the energy mix of many countries in Africa, but currently remains a mostly untapped resource.
“Rift Valley’s new wind farm at Mwenga is a demonstration to other developers and investors in Tanzania and beyond that wind is a viable, replicable and bankable energy solution.”
Michael Gratwicke, Managing Director of Rift Valley Energy Group, said: “This is obviously a key milestone for our project team, our energy business, as well as for Tanzania as a whole. We humbly thank all of the stakeholders who have made this achievement possible.”