Selecting Suitable Sites for Wind Energy Development in Ghana
Recent energy crisis in Ghana has led to an intense search for an alternate energy solution. Currently the country is relying on fossil fuel for electricity generation. About 43% of energy generated in the country is from fossil fuel thermal energy. In the event of shortages in petroleum products, these power plants will have to shut down or run on a low capacity resulting in load shedding routines. In order to explore an alternate energy source, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a study to assess Ghana’s wind energy potential. Some areas across the country were found to have enough wind resource for power generation. However, sites for wind farms are not wind speed dependent only; other underlying factors also play an important role in the site selection process. The objectives of this research work are to identify these factors and integrate them in the site selection process within a GIS environment. The site selection was based on two major kinds of criteria setting; the constraints and factor criteria. Layers of these criteria setting were combined using the overlay function in a GIS environment. Weights were also assigned to the factor criteria layers using pairwise comparisons. Suitable sites were selected in five regions after incorporating the various criteria. A total of 142 isolated sites were selected after incorporating a number of factors and constraints. The optimal arrangement of the turbines for the Oforikrom site was also designed. This research recommends that the existing land use and ownership of the selected sites should be ascertained. Wind speed measuring masts should also be erected at the various sites to determine the economic viability of setting up a commercial wind farm.
Keywords: Wind Energy, Wind Farm, GIS, Criteria