DII says wind to boom in MENA

International desert-power alliance DII has turned a spotlight on the wind potential of the Middle East and North African (MENA), with research suggesting 2.7GW will be brought on line by next year and a further 20GW by 2020.

In its report Desert Power: Getting Started, DII, which is shepherding the Desertec solar mega-project, points to a combination of high wind speeds and grid connectivity as boosting the region’s short-term prospects.

“While 2013 figures recently indicated that the EU wind-energy market is consolidating, DII’s analysis shows that south of the Mediterranean, conditions for onshore wind are particularly favourable,” says the report. “Electricity from wind power costs €50-70 [$69-96] per MWh at good sites in MENA.”

Targeted capacity build-out in the MENA countries, where wind speeds have been mapped at between eight and ten metres per second, includes: Egypt (7.2GW), Saudi Arabia (5GW), Morocco (2GW), Libya (1.5GW) and Jordan (1.2GW).

Currently, 1.4GW of wind projects are in operation in MENA, of which 22% were switched on last year, according to DII numbers.

Although onshore wind meets less than 1% of energy demand in the region, DII forecasts that this figure could mushroom to 50% “due to the cost-competitiveness of the technology and the vast quantity of available sites with favourable wind speeds”.

It highlights Algeria as a first- mover in MENA. Wind farms in the North African country have achieved levelised cost of energy of €0.06-0.085/kWh — and as low as a “commercially competitive” €0.09-0.10/kWh when transmission costs to Italy via a high-voltage direct-current interconnector across the Mediterranean are factored in.

“Several non-economic hurdles have to be overcome: a self-sustained market requires sound regulation, and not just for the private sector,” notes DII.

“Main measures include: secure land access, secure grid access, a transparent permitting landscape, access to creditworthy customers and high-quality meteorological data.”