GIS-BASED WIND FARM SITE SELECTION MODEL OFFSHORE ABU DHABI EMIRATE, UAE
- 1United Arab Emirates University, Geography and Urban Planning Department, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
- 2United Arab Emirates University, Geology Department, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
- 3United Arab Emirates University, MSc in RS/GIS Program, United Arab Emirates
Keywords: Wind Energy, Offshore Wind Farm, UAE, GIS, Site Selection
Abstract. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has declared the increased use of alternative energy a strategic goal and has invested in identifying and developing various sources of such energy. This study aimed at assessing the viability of establishing wind farms offshore the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE and to identify favourable sites for such farms using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) procedures and algorithms. Based on previous studies and on local requirements, a set of suitability criteria was developed including ocean currents, reserved areas, seabed topography, and wind speed. GIS layers were created and a weighted overlay GIS model based on the above mentioned criteria was built to identify suitable sites for hosting a new offshore wind energy farm. Results showed that most of Abu Dhabi offshore areas were unsuitable, largely due to the presence of restricted zones (marine protected areas, oil extraction platforms and oil pipelines in particular). However, some suitable sites could be identified, especially around Delma Island and North of Jabal Barakah in the Western Region. The environmental impact of potential wind farm locations and associated cables on the marine ecology was examined to ensure minimal disturbance to marine life. Further research is needed to specify wind mills characteristics that suit the study area especially with the presence of heavy traffic due to many oil production and shipping activities in the Arabian Gulf most of the year.