Wind, another option in the Saudi renewable energy strategy
In my first article about the Saudi renewable energy strategy, I highlighted that the Saudi government is planning to develop a total of 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of a $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption in line with Vision 2030.
Talking about wind power as another option, the Arabian Peninsula has been a white spot on the world’s wind maps. One reason for this is that until recently Saudi Arabia was rather shielded from the rest of the world. On the other hand, almost infinite oil reserves were considered to secure the energy supply far into the future.
Saudi Arabia is characterized by regions of high wind power-density potential, mostly located along the Red Sea coast and in the southeast. However, according to a recent study, high wind energy potential can be also found in other regions during specific seasons.
The study predicted a number of high-potential areas of great wind power density for many decades, making these areas promising locations for harvesting wind energy. The overall results of the simulation tests were much better than expected. According to the researchers, Saudi Arabia has “significant wind energy potential.”
In view of the suitable weather conditions, Saudi Arabia’s northern region is regarded as a potentially viable location for wind farm construction. According to the Renewable Energy Atlas, the northeast, central and western regions of the Kingdom have high wind speeds of around 8.0 m/s.
Meanwhile, the government has launched tenders to bring renewable energy to Saudi Arabia. Four consortia have applied for a contract worth $500 million to build the country’s first wind farm.
The winner of the development rights of the 400 MW Dumat Al-Jandal wind farm in the northern Al-Jouf region will be decided next month. The contract will be accompanied by a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Co. When completed, the wind farm is expected to generate an average of 400 megawatts (MW) that could supply up to 70,000 Saudi households.
Moreover, in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the US conglomerate General Electric Co. will install a demo 2.75-MW wind turbine for Saudi Aramco that is expected to displace diesel as a power generation source at one of the refiner’s bulk plants. The 2.75-120 machine will be erected at the Turaif Bulk Plant in the northern border region, close to the border with Jordan.
As another option to solar, I do believe that the development of a wind energy industry in Saudi Arabia is a crucial step toward a wider energy strategy. The kingdom’s first utility-scale wind project has truly opened a new chapter in our journey toward a diversified energy mix.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.