NREL and USAID worked to assess wind resource potential in Bangladesh with the aim of accelerating large scale wind energy deployment in the country.

Bangladesh Wind Resource Mapping Project

As part of its 2016 Power System Master Plan, the government of Bangladesh has set a target for producing 10% of their electricity from renewable energy resources by 2021. To help reach this target, NREL has partnered with Bangladesh and USAID to quantify the country’s untapped wind energy potential and create publicly available maps and tools to stimulate investment and development in wind energy. Although existing wind resource maps demonstrate wind potential at the national level, these maps do not rigorously represent the energy potential available to modern turbines and are unable to attract sufficient investments or developers.

The Bangladesh Wind Resource Mapping Project consisted of three tasks aimed at raising national awareness for wind energy potential and addressing existing technical and commercial barriers to wind energy development: 1) establishing preliminary wind measurement sites; 2) leading a multi-year wind measurement campaign; and 3) modelling regional wind resources and developing data-rich wind resource products. The image below, a high-resolution, national-level wind resource map for Bangladesh, is just one example of such a data-rich wind resource product.


resource map from Bangladesh wind assessment study

Figure. Bangladesh's wind resource map at 120m.1


Wind measurement sites

NREL helped identify nine measurement sites where data for a preliminary wind resource map could be collected. These maps offered an initial indication of wind speeds, wind directions and seasonal variability, which were used later to identify sites for more detailed measurements. These preliminary sites were selected on the basis of:

  • Potential reflected in preexisting wind resource maps;
  • Proximity to transmission;
  • Geographic diversity; and
  • ‘Developability’ (as determined by relevant wind development experts).

The identification of these preliminary wind measurement sites not only ensured an accurate national wind map for future policy makers, investors and developers but also indicated where future transmission upgrades might be necessary. The results of these initial studies also helped raise awareness within the government of Bangladesh of the potential for wind energy to address energy policy goals.

Multi-year wind measurement campaign

NREL selected nine sites for a rigorous, multi-year wind data measurement campaign. At each of the sites, data on wind speed and direction were collected at multiple heights in high temporal resolution. This data was then used to validate preliminary modelling to confirm the viability of these potential sites for wind development. High quality data from multiple heights enabled a more accurate assessment of potential wind power production, reducing risk for developers and investors alike. The table below details the site's location, duration of monitoring and type of instrumentation.


Table. Bangladesh Measurement Sites.1

table with locations of measurement data instruments


Modeled regional wind resources and data-rich wind resource products

In order to develop a national wind resource model, NREL and its partners adapted the state-of-the-art Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to a wind forecasting application. This model was then combined with actual measured data from the nine selected sites to generate a model specifically for Bangladesh. The model provided a wealth of information on annual, monthly, and hourly time scale including wind speed, shear, humidity and air density. The figure below shows example data for mean wind speeds (at all heights and at 80m) from the WRF model and actual observations from the measurement stations. This publicly available data can help:

  • System operators forecast how developed wind resources can address seasonal demand and other grid-integration issues;
  • Developers select premium sites for wind projects and reduce wind-prospecting timelines;
  • Developers and investors better estimate capacity factors for future projects, improving the accuracy of economic analyses which can lead to better financing opportunities for future Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs); and
  • Demonstrate to government officials that wind energy has the potential to aid in future energy policy decisions.


Mean wind speed data from Bangladesh study

Figure. Annual Cycle of mean wind speed.1


Over the long term, the improved wind data products will reduce development risk, increase public and private stakeholder confidence in wind energy projects, and expand potential opportunities for wind power by providing the data needed to evaluate wind projects and incorporate wind resources into a national energy strategy. The image below highlights how geospatial data and models can inform technical and economic analyses which in turn can help support renewable energy development.


maps connection between data and analyses

Figure. Connections across geospatial data, analyses and decisions to support renewable energy development.1


Results and achievements

NREL’s collaboration with USAID in Bangladesh resulted in highly valuable tools and datasets which will contribute to the long-term development and viability of Bangladesh’s nascent wind energy sector. These data and tools include:

  • A raw high-quality meteorological dataset with excellent geographic diversity and temporal resolution;
  • A quality-controlled meteorological dataset;
  • A final modeled, long-term correlated wind energy dataset;
  • Validated, high resolution (spatial and temporal) wind resource maps; and
  • A custom GIS-based tool, RE Data Explorer Bangladesh which graphically represents all of the data in a user-friendly format so that non-exports can make informed decisions with regards to system planning, policy making and financing.


Power plant map

The map below shows the location, type and size of power plants operating in Bangladesh.

map generated by Sam's app



1"Assessing the Wind Energy Potential in Bangladesh- Enabling Wind Energy Development with Data Products", Jacobson, M. et al., 2018.

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