Africa’s Biggest Wind Farm Spins In Ethiopia


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Big wind has arrived in the Horn of Africa, where it sure is needed.

The 84-turbine, 120-megawatt Ashegoda Wind Farm – expanding on 30 megawatts that came online earlier – went into full operation this past weekend as Africa’s largest wind power station, according to a Reuters report.

ethiopia wind power

Somewhat unusual two-bladed turbines were used for the first phase of the Ashegoda project (image via Vergnet)

This is a big new jolt of generating capacity for Africa, which at the end of 2012 had just 1,135 MW of the world’s 282,482 MW of wind power (and nearly all of what Africa did have, 841 MW, was in Egypt or Morocco).

In a report [PDF] earlier this year, the African Development Bank identified 16 ongoing projects that would add 1.5 gigawatts of capacity, and another 33 planned projcts that would add at least 9 GW, including 5 GW at the Sahara Wind Project in Morocco.

For blackout-ridden Ethiopia, the Ashegoda development capped a big week on the renewable energy front. Earlier, the country signed a preliminary deal with the Icelandic enterprise Reykjavik Geothermal to build a plant with a whopping 1,000 MW capacity.

As always with geothermal, getting that project rolling was – and likely will be, as the inevitable challenges are encountered – a matter of securing financing.

“For 50 years, everyone has known that there was potential, but the initial risk and initial cost of developing geothermal is high,” Reykjavik Geothermal managing director Thorleifur Finsson told Reuters. “After we managed to develop many sites in Asia and America, eyes have been opened that there is a possibility and … today’s technology has minimized that financial risk,” he said. “There is huge potential.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.