Evaluated the location of wind power plants based on spatial assessment of environmental factors (Case study: Mazandaran Province)

Document Type : Full length article


1 Department of Geography, Islamic Azad University of Nour

2 Teacher of Geography Faculty , Islamic Azad University of Nour Branch.

3 Assistant Professor, Natural Heritage Department, Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism


Extended abstract


Wind energy offers many advantages, which explains why it's one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the world. Many researches efforts are aimed at addressing the challenges to greater use of wind energy. Wind energy doesn't pollute the air like power plants that rely on combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas. On the other hands, the world is fast becoming a global village due to the increasing daily requirement of energy by all population across the world while the earth in its form cannot change. The need for energy and its related services to satisfy human social and economic development, welfare and health is increasing. Returning to renewables to help mitigate climate change is an excellent approach which needs to be sustainable in order to meet energy demand of future generations. Recently, Mazandaran Province has needed more energy. Considering the capabilities of this province in generating renewable energy, recognizing the potentials of clean energy generation and consumption, especially wind energy, should be a priority in the plans of managers and researchers.

Study area

Mazandaran Province, with an area of 23,756 km2, occupies about 1.46% of Iran, ranking 18th in land area. It lies between latitudes 35° 47′ to 36° 54′ N and longitudes 50° 34′ to 54° 10′ E. According to the world solar atlas data, the province receives an average of 4 kWh/m2/day sunshine hours, which is equivalent to 1460 kWh/m2/year. If we compare this amount of energy with the wind power potential of Germany, which receives an average of 3.2 kWh/m2/day of sunshine in the best conditions, this can be concluded that Mazandaran Province has a high potential for extractable energy and spatial capacity of wind flow. This province is characterized by a particular topography (from 26 to over 5000 m altitude), a northern hillslope aspects and prevailing winds from west to northwest to north, all of which provide the conditions for wind energy evaluation and spatial capacity. The increase of population in Mazandaran Province as well as its development as the first tourism hub in Iran have drastically reduced the capacity of the province in terms of environmental resources utilization. Therefore, it is necessary to zone different regions of the province, focus on topographical conditions and identify areas suitable for wind turbine construction in order to exploit the wind power potential and meet the replacement demand for cheap renewable energy instead of expensive fossil fuels.

Materials and methods

Current study has been done with the aim of spatial capability of wind energy in Mazandaran Province with emphasis on its environmental factors. A descriptive, analytical and field approach is used in this study. The spatial capability of wind energy in Mazandaran Province was evaluated using spatial and quantitative data. In order to initially estimate the energy that can be obtained from wind flow in the province, the necessary calculations were performed on wind direction and velocity information over a period of 12 years. Statistics of 15 synoptic meteorological stations in the province at a height of 10 meters were used to collect daily wind speed and direction data. After calculating the average wind speed, wind speed continuity and wind power density in the meteorological stations, layers of each were prepared at heights of 10, 30 and 50 m using interpolation in ArcGIS software environment. Using AHP and ANP models, layers of 4 technical (climatic), environmental-social, topographic and economic criteria including 21 sub-criteria were prepared then overlapped to determine suitable locations for construction of power plants or installation of wind turbines in Mazandaran Province. Finally, wind potential spatial measurement was performed using spatial, cellular and zoning analyzes in ArcMap software environment.

Result and discussion

According to the calculations, it is clear that the price of fuel consumed by power plants in the current situation and based on the use of gas will make gas power plants still more cost-effective. In this case, it can be seen that even the cost of pollution cannot make the wind power plant more economical; Because the wind power plant is highly sensitive to exchange rate which this sensitivity is due to the high cost of imported equipment. But if the price of fuel used by power plants is calculated on the basis of the real price, wind farms will be justified. Therefore, with the resistance economy approach, replacing thermal power plants with wind power plants will be economical and cost-effective in the medium and long term. In this way, in addition to using the potential of renewable and clean energy in electricity generation (according to the environmental potential of Mazandaran Province), much lower environmental damage compared to fossil fuels and greater durability of non-renewable fuels for transmission to future generations, the economic costs of power generation and power plant networks maintenance will also be reduced. The relative weights obtained from the network analysis process model (AHP) in the process of selection of the suitable location of wind power plants in the province showed that the effect of climatic criterion with a relative weight of 0.543 is greater than other three criteria in preparing the zoning map. Topographic criteria with a relative weight of 0.26, economic with a relative weight of 0.111 and environmental-social criteria with a relative weight of 0.086 are in the second to fourth categories of influencing the preparation of optimal zoning maps for wind power plants in Mazandaran Province. According to the zoning map obtained from ANP model such as AHP map, the western parts of Noor township, the northern parts of Savadkuh, Sari, Neka and Behshahr townships, the central zone of Babol township along with the central zone and the northern parts of Amol township are more suitable than other parts of the province to establish or build wind power plants.


Energy sector strategies should be developed and planned with the approach of optimizing energy consumption and planning in renewable energy development. This study was done with the aim of spatial measurement of wind energy in Mazandaran Province. The most favorable conditions for the installation of wind turbines can be observed in the mountainous and high parts of Noor Township.


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 10 May 2022
  • Receive Date: 08 February 2022
  • Revise Date: 03 April 2022
  • Accept Date: 10 May 2022
  • First Publish Date: 10 May 2022