Mapping Suitable Sites for Setting up Wind Farms: A Case Study of Nyanga District
Due to the negative impacts on the environment of traditional power-generating methods, especially fossil fuels, wind power has increased in popularity. Achieving carbon emissions reduction goals due to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol require exploitation of renewable energy, Cleaner Development Mechanisms, (CDM). Additionally, the increased difficulty of obtaining oil from foreign sources and continuous power shortages make wind energy a very attractive alternative to keep Zimbabwe powered, clean and green. In order to tap the potential of wind energy sources, there is a need to assess the spatial availability of the resources. Mapping suitable sites for setting up wind farms was the focus of this study. The study employed the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) approach to map the wind energy resources of Nyanga district and carry out a multi-criteria evaluation analysis of their potential by considering other data sets such as land cover, land use and proximity to roads. From the analysis carried out, the mean area size of the most suitable land parcels was 36.810 km2,which is therefore more than enough for a large wind farm given that an area size of 2 km2 is enough to justify the development of a 10MW wind farm project. Most suitable areas were found where commercial activities are while small patches averaging 5 to 10 km2 in rural areas make the medium suitability areas.
Key Words: Mapping, Sites, Wind farm, Energy, Multi-criteria, Evaluation