Winds of hope: Ethiopia’s milestones in embracing wind energy

(Adama II Wind farm shown above)

Ethiopia has a defiant will to stand out. This will extends to its efforts to become a world class developer of clean energy sources like wind power. Ethiopia has become a major exporter of energy in the region and has embarked on a journey to harness its clean energy with a goal of producing over 1.3 million megawatts of electricity from wind.

In 2012, the first wind installation in the country was introduced. Launched as the Adama I Wind Farm, a plant with a total of 34 turbines producing a capacity of 51 megawatts of energy kick-started the initiative. A race to achieve the country’s strategic five-year plan to generate 890 megawatts of power from wind had begun. What has followed since then is multiple projects designed to help reach the set target.

In 2009, ground was broken for another wind farm at Ashegoda, known as one of the windiest places in Ethiopia. The project was delayed in its development but  operations began in October 2013. Ashegoda Wind Farm is the largest wind farm in Africa, generating around 120 megawatts of energy. It is among the eleven sites in Africa identified by experts with great potential to generate power from wind.

A recent feasibility study was conducted by Vergnet Group SA, a French firm in the region of Tigray where the farm is located, with the intention of expanding the farm. Commenced late last year, the project will help the country add to the grid a total of 40 megawatts in the Tigray Regional State. The Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) Ato Alemayehu Tegenu and the Minister of Communication and Information Technology Debretsion Gebremichel have entered into another agreement to expand power generation in the country. The target is 10,000 megawatts of electric power from water, wind and geothermal sources. The wind farm in Ashegoda has 84 turbines spanning a large grassland field, more than 780 kilometers North of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

This project has not only brought clean energy to the people of the region but has attracted other players in the sector from neighboring countries like Kenya to tour around and learn a few lessons from it.

Photo of Ashegoda wind Farm courtesy of Ethiopian Opinion.

Late last year, the government began the Adama II Wind Farm project around 98 Kilometers East of Addis Ababa, which is generating energy on a trial basis and is expected to be fully operational in June 2015. The plant began development in 2013 and will evenutally be able to produce around 153 megawatts of electricity with a total of 102 turbines, improving the country’s wind generation capacity to 324 megawatts so far.

Though overall it has been a costly venture, consuming over 345 million USD, the Government and private sector partners of Ethiopia are undeterred in embracing clean energy solutions. This falls under the five-year Growth Transformation Plan for Ethiopia: plans that will see the country generate around 890 megawatts of energy from wind in the near future.