Yemen’s Electricity and Energy Ministry plans to tender contracts for the country’s first renewable energy project in 2012, in spite of the ongoing civil unrest that began one year ago.

According to a source at the ministry, the 60MW wind farm at Al-Mokha will cost around $120m to build. A special purpose vehicle will be established for the project.

The project has secured funding commitments for the project from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (Arab Fund), World Bank, Opec and the Yemeni government. However, there is currently a funding gap of about $17m.

The feasibility study for the wind farm covering the technical and financial feasibility of the project was completed in June 2010. The site is located about 5 kilometres, northwest of Al-Mokha. The project may be developed in one of three ways: a total of 70 turbines with a capacity of 850kW each, 36 turbines with a capacity of 1.65MW each or 30 turbines each with a capacity of 2MW.

The ministry has selected Greece’s Tersa as consultant for the project, but the Arab Fund has said that the advisory contract for the project should be retendered. If the existing advisory firm is retained, engineering, procurement and construction contractors may be invited to bid in the first quarter of this 2012. If a re-bid takes place, the schedule will be pushed back by several months.

The construction phase of the project will last for about two years. The expected operational life of wind turbines will be around 20 years.

The wind farm is one of five schemes that have been identified by the government as priority energy projects. The other schemes include a reinforcement of the “backbone” transmission line between Dhamar and Aden, a 32kV substation in Sanaa, a gas-fired project and a 132kV transmission line.