Optimal location of suitable sites for wind farms using a GIS approach (case study of Garissa and Ijara)
Mugo, Betsy Makena
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Over the recent years, the country has experienced inadequacy in meeting the demands for power due to over reliance on hydro power which is affected by reduced rainfall. Due to this inadequacy, most of the population depends on kerosene to light up their homes and also has resulted in importation of power to meet the gap. This has resulted in a need to seek other sources of power that do not depend on rainfall availability. These sources of power would include wind power which if harnessed would produce substantial amount of power due to the fact that Kenya has high wind speeds favourable for wind power generation. Population has been on the increase which then means that more demand of power arises against an ever reducing source of power which primarily comes from hydro power. The study area is in a semi arid area which has not been utilized significantly for any economic activities. Thus this would be a suitable area for large scale production of wind power since there is little human, vegetation, or conservation areas conflict. In line with demand for green energy, the project was formulated and executed to illustrate that suitable sites for wind farms can be found in the study area and that the wind energy can be used to complement other forms of energy like hydro power, solar power and geothermal power. The large scale production of wind power is set to be pioneered by the Lake Turkana Wind Power (L TWP) set to produce 300 megawatts. The project was aimed at researching viable areas suitable for wind farms location in Garissa and Ijara districts, as well as assess wind direction variability, wind speed seasonality, comparison of suitable sites at wind speeds of 50 metres HH and 100 metres HH. The project was be done by Geographic Information System data integration acquired from different sources and modeling using GIS software to achieve optimal sites for wind farms. The data used in the model include, wind speed data, major roads, major rivers, land use cover, digital elevation model, protected or conservation areas as well as populated areas. The results showed that the areas suitable for wind farms at 50 and 100 m HH were similar because Garissa and Ijara have high wind speeds. All the objectives of the study were met.