Wind has long been a source of energy for humans, from sailors who depend on it to power their ships to farmers who use windmills to grind their grain and pump water.
Today, small backyard turbines can power a single home or business, while large wind farms can generate electricity to cover an entire country.
Resource not running out
Wind energy is a resource that never runs out, unlike fossil fuels, which require huge efforts, time, and heavy and expensive machinery to produce.
Fossil fuels also release polluting gases into the air, impacting health and climate.
In contrast, wind power produces about 11 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, compared to about 980 grams for coal.
The worldwide wind energy market is expected to jump to 1,200 gigawatts by 2025 with a market value of $17.8 billion, according to the 2022 Wind Energy Report from the World Wind Energy Council.
In addition, the wind energy industry has made great progress and strides in technology that have made wind turbines more efficient, generate more electricity, require less maintenance, and operate more quietly.
The GCC is interested in developing wind energy, with their beaches and desert hinterland being some of the best in the world for wind generation.
The wind industry also has the ability to localize parts of turbine manufacturing within these countries, as there are many metals and plastics needed to produce locally.
This sector also provides highly skilled jobs, as the International Renewable Energy Agency expects this to create up to 11,000 new jobs in the GCC by 2030.
Saudi is considered one of the most advanced countries in the GCC in this field, following the construction of the first wind farm in the Kingdom in Dumat Al-Jandal, which entered into service last August.
It is the largest in the Middle East, with a capacity of 400 megawatts, and will provide power to 70,000 homes.
The kingdom also plans to build a 500-megawatt floating offshore wind farm in the Gulf, which is expected to be completed in 2027.
These and other renewable energy projects in Saudi Arabia will contribute to mitigating climate-related emissions in the Kingdom.
As for the UAE, it is one of the leading countries in this field, as part of the country’s Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase its clean share in the energy mix to 50 percent.
It has built the first wind turbine to generate electricity on Sir Bani Yas Island, which is located 250 km southwest of Abu Dhabi.
The plant has a production capacity of 850 kilowatts of energy per hour.
Oman also has great wind energy potential, with strong wind flows along its long coastline – which stretches for more than 2,000 kilometers.
The Sultanate has a 50MW wind farm in the Dhofar region and plans to build more wind farms across the country.
As for Egypt, it aims to reach 42 percent of renewable energy with electricity generation capacity by 2035, including 14 percent of electricity derived from wind energy.
The World Bank estimated the potential of offshore wind in the economic zone of the Suez Canal at about 166 gigawatts, of which 27 gigawatts of offshore wind with a fixed bottom, and 139 gigawatts of the potential floating offshore wind.
Despite its advantages, one of the main problems with wind energy is that it poses a threat to wildlife, with studies estimating that wind turbines kill between 140,000 and 500,000 birds each year because they often hit the fast-moving blades.
However, careful planning of the location of wind farms can significantly reduce the number of bird accidents.
Another added problem is noise, but today modern turbines are built to be quieter than ever.
The last problem is location. In order to be economically viable and thus produce enough electricity, turbines must be installed in windy areas, which are usually remote places.
Therefore, due to their remoteness from populated areas, the power lines that connect the wind farms to the electricity grid must be built.
This leads to additional costs and can sometimes have repercussions on the environment, as building such infrastructure often requires demolishing trees or changing the landscape.