Tracking down the wind farm of Dhofar

The location is not an easy place to get to. From Salalah, one will have to travel more than 150kms towards Marmul. From the highway of Marmul, one will have to drive a little farther towards the interior, in the middle of the desert where from the looks of it is nothing more but a giant space of nothing.

Salalah in early September still enjoys a little bit of Khareef slash the beginning of asurd. But it’s on a beautiful Friday morning when Upasana Venaik, an expat medical practitioner based in Dhofar, decided to hunt down the newly installed wind farm with her photography enthusiast friends Sushant, Zeek and Charbi.
“We were all excited to check this new place. I usually wake up late, especially during the weekends, but the thought of seeing the windmills did woke me on the dot,” she shared.
The departed Salalah at 5:30 in the morning, took the long stretch of Salalah to Muscat Highway towards Marmul with but faith and perseverance that they will find what they were looking for.
“When we reached Thumrait, we noticed the drastic change in the landscape. From the lush green mountains of Salalah, we were in this barren nothingness, and the midday sun wasn’t helping,” she shared.
They made several stops along the way and noticed abandoned tires on the side of the highway. Upasana couldn’t help but compare the barren mountains that she saw with that found in Egypt.
With an active imagination, she shared, “Some mountains replicated small size of pyramids and sphinx.”

Five years in the making
“By eight in the morning, we are still nowhere near the site. Our team just kept on driving, with one acting as navigator. To reach the windmills, you have to drive for a long stretch in the interiors. It was the first time any of us were going here, so we were not even sure how soon we will get to see one,” she said.
The 13 turbines that currently make up the Dhofar Windfarm began the installation process in 2018. Funded by Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, work pushed through after a signed agreement was made with the Rural Areas Electricity Company of Oman (Tanweer) in 2014.
The project was delivered right on target with the expected operation in the third quarter of 2019. The plan was for the clean energy to help supply power to seven per cent of Dhofar’s electricity demand, which when converted, can cover an estimated 16,000 homes.
While Oman is a significant producer of oil, the move offsets an estimated 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted yearly.
The project would not have been possible without the cooperation of other agencies and companies. While Tanweer operates the wind power plant upon its completion, GE Renewable Energy looked after and provided the 3.8MW wind turbines that were made to withstand the Sultanate’s challenging arid and desert conditions. For the rest of the job, including electrical transmission and connection to the plant grid, TSK covered.

A sight to behold
When Upasana finally laid her eyes on the 13 wind turbines from where they parked their car, all she can think of was how beautiful they were.
“We have to drive a few kilometres more before we spotted the first one. It took us another 20 minutes to get a good glimpse of all the windmills. We stopped at this point where we can actually see all 13 turbines in one spot,” she said.
“Honestly I could not get enough of the view, it was so beautiful. We all felt like small kids happy with something new. I managed to take some good photos here and of the highway,” she shared.
Upasana said that some of the areas are restricted for public access. They had to find some locations where they are allowed to get a little bit closer to the giant wind turbines.
“We parked nearby and walked around these huge windmills. It was a sight to behold. The view is forever etched in our minds. It was breathtaking to watch huge white wind turbines with Oman flag displayed on each one. The fans were moving, and we just kept looking at them,” she shared.
Upasana and her colleagues spent about 40 minutes just taking in the view. They had some tea breaks and took dozens of photos.
“It was really hot in that area. It’s ideal to be visited early in the morning or late in the evening during sunset,” she advised.