Kenyan wind energy displaces and harms indigenous peoples

Industrial-scale renewable energy development is rapidly displacing Kenya’s indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands to make room for project development. The 310 megawatt Lake Turkana wind energy facility located in Marsabit County, Kenya is one such example.

Africa Uncensored, an independent investigative media house in Kenya produced The forgotten struggle of Kenyan indigenous people: Lake Turkana Wind Project, which explains how a pastoral village was relocated a kilometer away to make way for an access road to the project turbines.

Google earned international acclaim in 2015 when news of its agreement to acquire a 12.5% stake in the nearly $700 million facility hit the press. At the time, Google boasted that it was “investing in clean energy projects like Lake Turkana because they make business sense and can help accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.” The search giant was undeterred when, in late 2015, Google shareholders expressed concerns in a letter to the Google’s CEO regrading “violence, displacement, and environmental destruction associated with the Lake Turkana wind power project.”

The letter was ignored.

In late 2019, Google announced it would be abandoning its share of the Lake Turkana wind facility due to delays in constructing the 428 kilometer transmission line. There is no public information to suggest Google’s decision was based on anything other than financial. Meanwhile, the consortium of investors, including Vestas who supplied the 365 turbines for the site, continue to promote the narrative that the project brought wealth and jobs to the area. That narrative is belied by the facts on the ground.

The harmful societal impacts of the Lake Turkana facility are devastating and likely permanent. In March 2020, ISS Today reported how “[n]umerous unskilled youth employed as construction labourers now find it hard to resume their pastoralist lifestyles in the quest for a false promise of urbanisation. They have turned to drug abuse and crime. Young women and school-going girls have dropped out of school to become sex workers to earn money from project workers.”

WECC is committed to raising public awareness over the community and environmental harms resulting from a blind push to construct renewable energy.