GIS-based site suitability analysis for wind farm development in Saudi Arabia

Project: Research

Project Details


An enormous and urgent energy demand is predicted due to the growing global population, increase in power intensive industries, higher living standards, electrification of remote areas and globalization (transportation). Moreover, the global consciousness about the harmful effects of traditional methods of power generation on the environment has created a need to strategically plan and develop renewable and sustainable energy generation systems. This study presents a multi-criteria wind farm site suitability analysis based on Geographic Information System (GIS) modelling for the entire kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The site suitability analysis considered different parameters, such as climatic, economic, aesthetic and environmental conditions, and formulated a criterion based on wind resource, accessibility by roads/highways, proximity to the electrical grid, and optimum/safe distance from various settlements and airports. The developed model was then applied to the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by using long-term historical wind speed data from 29 meteorological stations across the country. The wind speed used in the criterion was interpolated to 100 m from 10 m AGL by using traditional one-seventh power law. To predict the wind speed in locations where data are not available, a spatial interpolation technique, inverse distance weighted, was used to convert wind speed point data to raster structure. The data and GIS shape files of other criteria mentioned above will be obtained from governmental organizations. The GIS shape files for roads and highways will be merged as identical constraints are applied to both criteria. Subsequently, the data of all the criteria will be reclassified into suitability scores. Two different modelling approaches are proposed to be adopted, one in which equal weightage will be given to all the components of the criteria and the other in which different weightage selected based on the literature, will be given to the different components of the criteria of site selection. The resulting suitability maps will be distributed into six classes, from the most suitable to least suitable. Some central and south-eastern regions may fail to qualify to be considered for wind farm development mainly due to scarce wind resources, population and connectivity by roads and electrical grid.
Effective start/end date15/04/1915/10/20


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