515 Sensitivity of Wind Energy Potential Analysis over East Africa to Land Cover Change

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Masilin Gudoshava, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and F. Semazzi

In the past few decades, the urban population over East Africa has been increasing steadily at a rate of approximately 4 to7%. This increase in population is expected to surge in the near future, with Lake Victoria Basin expected to have a population increase of approximately 300% over the year 2000 population in 2030. Most countries in this region depend on hydroelectric power however currently demand is greater than what can be supplied. Hence alternative sources of clean energy have to be sought. Wind power energy has been successfully implemented in Europe, with Denmark being able to generate approximately 40% of its demand. We therefore hypothesize that East Africa has the potential for wind energy expansion beyond the Turkana Wind Project and future land cover will likely alter the potential for wind energy in the region.

To assess the potential for wind energy over the region, we use the Weather and Research Forecasting model (WRFV3.7) coupled to a 1-Dimensional lake model. Seto et al.(2012) land cover projections for the year 2030 were used for the sensitivity. Simulations were conducted for different years, that is 2009, which was a climatological year, 2006 an extremely wet year and 2010 a dry year.

With the current land cover the wind speeds show that Kenya and Tanzania have a high potential in wind energy. Some parts of Uganda also show high potential in wind energy. Different resolutions show different wind speeds, with the coarser resolution missing some regions that have high wind speed. No major differences were obtained by looking at different years. The highest wind speeds occur in the early hours of the day and in the evening. The probability of getting wind speeds greater than 3.5 m/s, the typical cut-in speed for a small turbine to start generating power is greater than 60%. Using future projected land cover, we find that the wind speed over the urbanized region changes slightly with some urbanized regions having slightly higher wind speeds. Further analysis on why wind speeds increase will be done. In conclusion East Africa has the potential to expand their wind power energy and urbanization has an effect on the wind power energy production.

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