Tipped as the biggest windfarm in sub-Saharan Africa, the 84 turbine farm located around 475 miles north of the capital, Addis Ababa, will have a capacity of 120 MW and will produce about 400 million KWh a year.
The farm will be completed in phases over three and a half years and has produced 90 KWh for the national grid.
The Ashegoda windfarm, builds on the country’s plans to create a climate resilient economy by 2025.
The farm, inaugurated by Desalegn on Saturday, was supervised by German company Lahmeyer International and implemented by France’s Vergnet with French funding.
But the Ethiopian government insisted there were also local spin-offs.
“The project has provided very important experience-sharing for Ethiopia’s national companies, who have been involved in the construction of civil works such as geotechnical investigations, roads, turbine foundations, sub-station erection and electro-mechanical erection works,” it said.
Media reports in 2011, however, noted that about 700 farmers had lost some or all their land to make way for the turbines. They were given financial compensation but some complained the money was too little.
Ethiopia aims to become the region’s leading producer of renewable energy.
In the past two years it has built two smaller wind farms near Adama, south-east of Addis Ababa, with a capacity of 51MW each. It urgently needs new energy to feed economic growth that has averaged more than 10% over the past decade.
Power cuts are still a regular occurrence in major cities and about half the country still has no access to mains electricity.