Talks about the potential for wind energy in the UAE.
Q&A: Emad Ghaly, the head of wind power for the Middle East at Siemens
Emad Ghaly, the head of wind power for the Middle East at Siemens, reveals his outlook for the technology across the Arabian Gulf.
Why has wind power been so slow to gain traction locally?
Much of the Middle East’s energy infrastructure is dominated by fossil fuels, a legacy of the region’s significance as a producer and exporter of oil and natural gas. There is increasing appetite for the development of renewable energy resources in the region, but the assessment of potential for wind resources has been relatively slow. Recent assessments show that there is significant potential for wind energy in the UAE – including offshore – and I believe that we will soon see it attracting investment and development
Is this likely to change any time soon?
This is changing already. Local demand for energy continues to increase, and there is awareness that it will be more economically viable to use renewable resources for domestic power consumption rather than using oil and gas, which represent better value as exports. Wind power remains the most competitive renewable energy, and I would expect it to have a key role in the future energy mix of the UAE.
Is there scope to combine with solar regionally?
Undoubtedly, there is potential for solar power generation in the Middle East and combining it with wind power – provided that the site has the right attributes for both these resources – is certainly possible. However, with view to constant electricity supply, it makes sense to combine renewable generation such as wind with a conventional source as a backup, for example clean-burning natural gas. The benefit of this is that because the renewable source is not necessarily consistent or predictable, conventional generation could be used to fill the gaps and ensure reliable, efficient power delivery.
Are technology improvements making it easier to generate from lower wind speeds?
The majority of new wind turbines are being designed for lower wind speeds. The UAE has significant potential for wind sites with speeds between 5.5 and 7 metres per second, which can be quite easily captured using technology available today. Siemens has developed new wind turbines that can harness energy from very low average wind speeds, and technology continues to improve in terms of efficiency, output and operational ranges. We have been working in the wind power industry for more than 30 years and supplied 175 wind turbines to the world’s largest operational wind farm, the London Array. The London Array wind farm alone can power more than 500,000 homes and displaces more than 900,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, so it’s safe to say that we are excited about the prospects for wind power in the UAE and the Middle East.
Where in the UAE or Arabian Gulf offers the best potential for wind power?
There is good wind in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE. It’s important to remember that today’s technology means we do not need high wind speeds to generate good energy. As an example, Germany has close to 40 gigawatts of installed wind capacity, but more than half of this is in areas where the wind speeds are lower than 7.2 metres per second, and many in areas where it is frequently lower than 6.3 metres per second.
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