Call to build wind farms - Mandeep Singh Gulf Daily News

Call to build wind farms

Apr 30, 2010 - Mandeep Singh Gulf Daily News

More wind farms could be on the way in Bahrain if one of the country's top scientists gets his way.

Bahrain University applied physics professor Dr Waheeb Alnaser has submitted proposals to the government to build two wind farms in the south and east of the country.

The GDN reported on Monday that two new "hybrid" power plants, one using solar energy and the other using wind power, had already been approved.

However, Dr Alnaser said more alternative energy sources were needed to power the country -- saying studies had found that several locations in south and central Bahrain were ideal.

"We are already proposing two sites in the country -- at Ras Al Bar and south Zallaq -- to set up wind energy plants, with a total installed capacity of 200 megawatts," he said.

"We hope these will see the light of day soon with the authorities pledging to look into the proposals."

Speaking on the sidelines of the Fourth International Workshop on Renewable Energy at the Sheraton Bahrain Hotel yesterday, he said Bahrain was better suited for alternative power than anywhere else in the Gulf.

He revealed Bahrain's winds reached their maximum strength for an average of 1,360 hours per year, adding this power could be harnessed "substantially".

"Though this is less in terms of similar hours in Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, Bahrain is small and it translates to being very high," he explained.

Meanwhile, he revealed the energy content of the sun per square metre was the same as 1.1 barrels of oil in Bahrain.

"The global average is under one barrel," he said.

"To put this in perspective, a field the size of a football pitch has the potential to generate energy equivalent of 2,000 barrels of oil per year -- assuming efficiency of solar power conversion technology is at only 15 per cent," he explained.

Dr Alnaser also revealed that the sun generated an average of 1,900 kilowatts of solar power per square metre in Bahrain every year.

"This can be considered medium to good resource level for solar power development, considering the global average is around 1,700," he added.

Meanwhile, he said that although investment in alternative energy had dipped by 18pc last year as a result of the financial crisis, a turnaround was expected.

"We expect investments to grow in 2010, mainly due to the large stimulus packages revealed by big countries," he said.

"Some believe the value of the package related to green investment could total $400 billion in the coming years."