Economic feasibility of development of wind power plants in coastal locations of Saudi Arabia - A review

S. M. Shaahid*, L. M. Al-Hadhrami, M. K. Rahman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Climate change and depletion of natural resources are serious issues that have potential impact on the economic and social development of countries. In this perspective, the governments world-wide are mobilizing initiatives to exploit renewable energy sources to mitigate increasing demand of energy, volatile fuel prices, and environmental concerns. Renewable energy (wind/solar) based power system is a nature-friendly option for power production to foster sustainable development challenges. In the present study, the economic feasibility of development of 75 MW wind power plants (wind farms) in the coastal locations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (K.S.A.) has been studied/reviewed by analyzing long-term wind speed data. Attention has been focused on four coastal locations (Al-Wajh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Jizan) covering the west coast. In general, long-term data indicates that the yearly average wind speed of K.S.A. varies from 3.0 to 4.5 m/s at 10 m height. The wind farms simulated consist of different combinations of 600 kW commercial wind machines (50 m hub-height). NREL's (HOMER Energy's) HOMER software has been employed to perform the techno-economic assessment. The study presents monthly variations of wind speed, cumulative frequency distribution (CFD) profiles of wind speed, monthly and yearly amount of energy generated from the 75 MW wind farms (50 m hub-height) at different coastal locations of K.S.A., cost of generating energy (COE, $/kWh), capacity factor (%), etc. The CFD indicates that the wind speeds are less than 3 m/s for 45%, 53%, 41%, and 52% of the time during the year at Al-Wajh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Jizan respectively. This implies that wind electric conversion systems (WECS) will not produce energy for about 41-53% of the time during the year. The annual energy produced by 75 MW wind farms (50 m hub-height) has been found to be 107,196, 81,648, 135,822, and 80,896 MWh at Al-Wajh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Jizan respectively. The cost of wind-based electricity by using 600 kW (50 m hub-height) commercial WECS has been found to be 0.0536, 0.0704, 0.0423, and 0.0711 US$/kWh for Al-Wajh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Jizan respectively. Also, attempt has been made to determine the capacity factor (CF) of wind-based power plants, the CF has been found to vary from 12% to 21% for different locations of the Kingdom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-597
Number of pages9
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the support of the Research Institute of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The authors are very thankful to NREL and HOMER Energy for making available freely HOMER software for design of electric power systems. The authors extend special thanks to Dr. Tom Lambert and Dr. Peter Lilienthal for their support and cooperation.


  • Commercial wind machines
  • Cost of energy
  • Hub-heights
  • Wind farms
  • Wind speeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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