Current and Future Estimates of Wind Energy Potential over Saudi Arabia

Wanfang Chen, Stefano Castruccio, Marc G. Genton, Paola Crippa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Saudi Arabia has a long tradition of relying on fossil fuels for satisfying its energy demand. With the rising energy needs due to population growth and societal development, the nation is seeking other sources of energy, which include its largely underused wind resources. In this paper, we analyze the wind power potential in Saudi Arabia based on the MENA CORDEX (Middle East North Africa Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment) model output. We investigate which climate settings and MENA CORDEX runs best capture the spatiotemporal patterns of reanalysis products, as assessed by multiple statistical metrics. Although there is a systematic negative bias in wind speed magnitudes for the five analyzed MENA CORDEX simulations, all runs are able to reproduce the seasonality and annual cycle of wind speed shown in the reanalysis data. The MENA CORDEX run with the highest skills is used to quantify the wind energy potential in Saudi Arabia in both current and future climates. Our analysis shows that a high wind energy potential exists over a vast area of western Saudi Arabia, particularly in the region between Medina and the Red Sea coast and during summer months. Based on model projections, the energy potential in these areas is likely to persist at least until the middle of the 21st century and thus may provide a valuable renewable source of energy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6443-6459
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume123
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 28 2018

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