Wind turbines customised for Oman’s desert conditions

Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, JAN 14 –
The manufacturers of the wind turbines for Oman’s first wind farm project say the high-tech systems have been customised to withstand the baking desert heat and sandstorms prevalent in the area where they are currently being installed in Dhofar Governorate.
GE Renewable Energy, the clean energy arm of global technology giant General Electric, is supplying all of the key pieces of equipment for the Gulf region’s maiden 50MW wind farm, including the towering masts, massive rotor blades and centrepiece wind turbine platforms. The 13-turbine facility is being developed by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) with funding support from Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).
Given the extreme climate and desert conditions prevailing in the Fitkhit area of Wilayat of Shaleem and Halaniyat Islands, where the wind farm is coming here, GE Renewable Energy says it has factored in these environmental elements into the design and manufacture of sensitive electronic components central to the smooth operation of the turbines.
Rebeca Calderon, Programme Manager at GE Renewable Energy in Barcelona, was quoted by the company’s website as saying that GE’s 3.8 MW turbine platform has been suitably “modified” to weather Fitkhit’s harsh environmental conditions.
Openings cut into the box on top of the turbine tower housing the power production kit allow for key components to remain sufficiently cooled even in hot summers. However, to keep desert sand and dust from infiltrating these sophisticated systems, louvers filters have been installed to cover the openings as well as to filter out grains of sand.
“In a sandstorm, sand is flying in all directions, but this system keeps the air that is circulating through the top of the turbine filtered and clean,” Calderon commented in the report.
Thanks to the vents, the modified wind turbines can deliver full power even when the outside temperature is as high as 45 degrees C. In contrast, wind turbines without the modifications typically shut down when the ambient temperature hits 40 degrees C or higher.
Thus, with the design tweaks, the Dhofar turbines will remain in operation even when temperatures reach their average peak of 45 degrees in summer, according to the report.
Last month, Masdar announced that the first of the 13 turbines has been installed with the help of towering cranes and heavy project handling equipment. The remaining 12 wind turbines are expected to be installed in phases over the next two months. Construction of the wind farm is due to be completed by the third quarter of this year.
The Rural Areas Electricity Company (Tanweer), a subsidiary of Nama Group (formerly The Electricity Holding Company), will assume operation of the facility when it is ready.
(Images courtesy:
GE Renewable Energy)