The Middle East’s largest wind turbine has begun producing electricity on Sir Bani Yas island off the western coast of Abu Dhabi.

The wind turbine, which stands 65 metres high and has three rotor blades each with a 52 metre wing span, has a production capacity of 850 KW per hour. The energy it is currently producing is being used to power the island’s facilities alongside conventional supply from the national grid.

The wind turbine, the only one of its kind in the region, was produced by Vestas Denmark, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer. It has been installed in Sir Bani Yas Bay, which looks out onto Jebel Dhana in the western province.

Sir Bani Yas is the former private eco-resort of the late UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The 87 square kilometre island is now at the core of Abu Dhabi’s emerging Desert Islands destination, which consists of eight islands and an onshore gate to deliver a multitude of hospitality and leisure destinations.

Alternative energy production is central to the overall sustainability strategy being developed jointly by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi’s leading tourism asset developer and the name behind the creation of Desert Islands, and Masdar, the emirate’s multi-faceted, multi-billion dollar investment in renewable and alternative energy.

‘We plan to utilise solar and wind solutions throughout the Desert Islands as part of a sustainability strategy which will mirror Sheikh Zayed’s eco-philosophy for Sir Bani Yas,’ said His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and of TDIC.

The destination’s sustainability strategy will be holistic and cover power, water, infrastructure, waste management and recycling to energy building standards. Insights into the strategy are being showcased this week at the World Future Energy Summit, which runs at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from January 21-23.

‘This event is being attended by some of the world’s most eminent experts in future energy whose expertise we will benefit from as we drive forward the Desert Islands sustainability programme,’ said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General ADTA and Managing Director TDIC.

Sustainability is impacting the entire Desert Islands project with Masdar committing to work with TDIC throughout the entire development programme.

‘Masdar’s collaboration with TDIC is in line with our strategy to develop Abu Dhabi’s alternative energy sector,’ said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO, Masdar. ‘By drawing on Masdar’s own expertise, as well as our global partners, we can drive efficiencies and reduce costs while meeting Abu Dhabi’s energy needs.’

Sir Bani Yas will be home to the Arabian National Park – which will span more than half of the entire island with resorts, eco-lodges and campsites at its centre, and the Falcon Lodge Peak, where visitors can take falconry lessons in a spectacular setting with entire island views. Tours of the park will be by sustainable vehicle, cycle and hiking tracks.

The island will also have a family-oriented, integrated Safari Park which will house a veterinarian research and animal wellness centre and a centre for breeding rare animals and birds in keeping with Sheikh Zayed’s legacy as an environmental pioneer.

‘Delivering intuitive sustainability is a core value of TDIC and integral to the company’s corporate DNA,’ explained Lee Tabler, CEO, TDIC. ‘The Desert Islands will be a case study in world-class sustainable development.’

Development of Desert Islands will be phased at an estimated total investment from both the government and private sector of more than $3bn. When fully operational, Desert Islands is expected to annually generate US$326m in tourism revenues and create a total of around 6,500 jobs.

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