Researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame, have found that wind energy has “considerable potential” in Saudi Arabia, a country more well-known for its reliance upon and dominance in oil.
Determining the potential for wind energy requires either intense and widespread observational data or highly fine-tuned computer modelling — both of which have been absent for Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading sources of petroleum.
However, as part of ongoing collaboration with the University of Notre Dame in the United States, researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) working as part of Marc G. Genton’s Research Group used high-resolution data to investigate the possibility of scaling-up wind energy in Saudi Arabia, reported CleanTechnica.
The Saudi energy ministry’s renewables office is expected to tender 3.25GW of solar and 800 megawatts of wind capacity this year as the Kingdom targets to add 9.5GW of renewables by 2023.
Acwa Power of Saudi Arabia, France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles, Italy’s Enel Green Power and France’s Engie are the four pre-qualified companies who submitted their bids earlier this year for the 400MW wind farm project at Dumat Al Jandal.
The planned $500mn scheme at Dumat Al Jandal, in the northern Al Jouf region, will be awarded on December 18 under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) after the bid evaluation process is completed.
“Saudi Arabia has mostly relied on fossil fuels for its energy needs, but this is changing due to the rising energy demand resulting from industrial development, urbanization and growth of its population,” explained Wanfang Chen, a doctoral student on Genton’s team.
However, scaling-up wind energy could provide a significant new source of clean electricity in the country, as well as a potential new industry for a country which simply won’t be able to hold on to its oil industry forever.