Masdar launches wind atlas to promote alternative energy source in coastal UAE
ABU DHABI // Masdar has launched a wind atlas designed to further the case for wind farm development in coastal areas and islands of the UAE.
Over the past 10 years, a team commissioned by Masdar has been collecting data on the country’s wind patterns to prompt developers to invest in a technology that is often overshadowed by the falling cost of solar energy.
“Although the cost of the panels has gone down drastically, solar now is more promising than wind, but it seems that the cost of the panels has flattened,” said Dr Hosni Ghedira, the research centre director at Masdar’s renewable energy mapping and assessment division.
“The big changes have occurred for solar technology, but for wind the price is decreasing so we expect it to beat solar again. It’s a competition.”
The atlas has data on wind intensity and direction at varying elevations from 10 to 120 metres.
The database is accessible online, and despite being developed by Masdar for potential investment it is available to third-party organisations.
“I think this is the main process to attract key investors, and it’s true that Masdar is one of the key players here,” Dr Ghedira said. “But our contribution through the wind atlas is to prompt investors before going to micro-siting.”
Micro-siting occurs when experts are sent into the field to conduct in-depth studies on the viability of wind farms. The atlas is the first step in that development.
“We know that Masdar has plans to develop farms all over the UAE in different places, and I believe this is the start of Masdar’s involvement in the future,” said Jacinto Estima, the geographic information systems developer and programmer for the wind atlas.
The highest wind intensity recorded by the team has been along the coast of Fujairah and at Sir Bani Yas island.
“The atlas includes the offshore potential as well, and that’s a completely different environment,” said Dr Taha Ouarda, head of the I-Water Centre at Masdar. “When you’re doing the recordings measurements should be corrected.”
The website, now available in a demo version, allows users to discover that aside from along the east coast, the winds are generally stronger over the ocean.
Wind direction is also a highly demanding factor in determining whether wind is a feasible power source.
As part of the research, developers have also included measurements in Qatar, which has recorded much higher rates of wind intensity, garnering much attention in the process.