The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is pursuing a variety of renewable energy resources beyond solar.
In 2015, almost 953 megawatts (MW) of wind energy was added to the region’s capacity. Wind power has shown steady growth in MENA; the cumulative wind power capacity for the region is 3,489 MW.
Currently, a handful of MENA countries are leading the way in wind energy, but many projects in the region are in the planning and construction phases. From Egypt to Israel, here’s what you need to know about wind energy development in this corner of the world.
Wind Energy Leadership in Egypt
Egypt is on its way to becoming a regional leader in wind energy. After a number of setbacks to its ambitious wind farm plans, the country made a $9 billion agreement in 2015 with Siemens, a global leader in power generation systems. This deal will play a major role in Egypt’s efforts to add 2 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy to its production capacity by the year 2022.
The deal between Siemens and Egypt includes the development of up to 12 wind farms, for a total of about 600 wind turbines. Additionally, the deal includes the development of a factory where blades for the wind turbines will be produced. The factory, which will be located in the Egyptian town of Ain Sokhna, will provide jobs and professional training for as many as 1,000 workers.
In addition, one of Africa’s largest wind farms is located in Egypt: the 21-square-mile wind farm in the Gulf of El Zayt. The farm uses 100 turbines to produce 200 MW of energy annually. This level of output can provide power for half a million Egyptians and cut the country’s carbon emissions by 400,000 tons. The project cost more than $350 million, much of which was financed by the German KfW Development Bank.
Kuwait’s Shagaya Renewable Energy Park
As part of the government of Kuwait’s efforts to get 15% of its energy from renewables by 2030, the Kuwaiti construction company Alghanim Industries partnered with construction engineering firm Elecnor for a wind farm in the country’s Shagaya Renewable Energy Park.
The first wind farm in Kuwait, the Shagaya project cost more than $24 million. When fully completed, the wind plant will include five wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2 MW, for a total power output of 10 MW from the plant.
Located west of the country’s capital, the Shagaya Renewable Energy Park is a joint effort between the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) and the country’s Ministry of Electricity and Water. The park will be home to a solar photovoltaic plant and solar thermal plant in addition to the wind farm. These projects are expected to provide a combined capacity of 2 GW of clean energy by the year 2030.
Saudi Arabia’s First Wind Turbine
Wind power is an integral part of Saudi Arabia’s growing efforts to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. This year, the country’s first wind turbine will be delivered and installed at Turaif. The turbine will provide energy for a nearby bulk oil storage plant owned by Saudi Aramco.
The wind turbine will be over 475 feet tall, with a maximum capacity of 2.75 MW. Saudi Arabia partnered with General Electric to bring the technology to the country as part of the government’s plan to produce 9.5 GW of renewable energy by the year 2030.
Libya Breaks into Wind Energy
Like Saudi Arabia, Libya is also making a foray into wind energy in the city of Msallata, east of the country’s capital, Tripoli.
The ambitious Msallata project will hopefully accommodate more than half of the city’s energy needs. The 16-turbine farm will have a capacity of 27 MW when it comes online at the end of 2017.
This inaugural wind energy project is led by the Renewable Energy Authority of Libya (REAoL). Egyptian company El Sewedy will be handling the construction of the wind farm, and a Spanish company is providing the turbines.
Israel’s Early Wind Farm
Located on Mount Bnei-Rasan in Israel, the Golan Heights Wind Farm was commissioned in 1993 as the first commercial wind power project in the Middle East.
Encompassing 10 turbines with a collective capacity of 6 MW, the wind farm was constructed by Israeli bottled water company Mey Eden (Waters of Eden). Golan Heights provides power for the company’s factories in the area, as well as wineries and the homes of around 20,000 residents. Leftover power is sent to the country’s power grid.
Since the construction of the Golan Heights Wind Farm, infrastructure development for wind energy has been quiet in Israel. However, the country has a 2020 goal to source 10 percent of its energy from renewables, and two new wind farms are being established near Mount Gilboa and Ramat Sirin.
As both the completed and in-process wind power projects in this region demonstrate, they will be an integral part of MENA’s energy future.