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A handful of African countries are betting on wind power to meet surging demand for electricity and combat regular blackouts.

A new wind farm in Kenya is set to be the largest in the continent.

Set for completion in 2012, the project around Lake Turkana in northern Kenya aims to generate 300 megawatts of electricity a year, one quarter of Kenya's current installed power and one of the highest proportions of wind energy anywhere in the world.

The Kenyan government hopes the move will reduce reliance on hydropower, which in a country of unpredictable rainfall and drought makes the electricity supply vulnerable to blackouts.

There are already large wind farms in Egypt and Morocco, while Ethiopia, Tanzania and South Africa have all announced plans to generate large amounts of electricity from wind. 

But these projects are not without difficulty. Transporting the 365 turbines to the remote location of the Turkana project and constructing substations and a transmission line to connect the farm to the national grid will be challenging.

The plans could be a short-term solution. "Ultimately for Africa, solar is the answer, although [costs mean] we may still be decades away," says Herman Oelsner, president of the African Wind Energy Association.

Link to full article in China Dialogue