Sahara Trade Winds to Hydrogen : Applied Research for Sustainable Energy Systems

Chapters :


Arial view of the SaharaCoast line

The Sahara Trade Winds that blow along the Atlantic coast from Morocco to Senegal represent the largest and most productive wind potential available on earth and are a significant natural resource that has yet to be exploited for regional development.


What is being done

NATO project participants at Mauritania’s renewable energy facility, University of Nouakchott

Within NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership framework, the Science for Peace and Security programme is supporting applied research into developing cutting-edge renewable hydrogen energy technologies for the region and at the same time improving education and training opportunities for young scientists.

One tangible aim of this NATO SPS project which was launched in 2007 will be to build a wind data network in the region.  From this network, a wind resource assessment will be developed in the context of regional research centres, universities and industries that are eager to maximize renewable energy sources. This project will be coordinated by a very experienced team with broad scientific backgrounds, represented by the Untied States, Morocco, Mauritania, France, Germany and Turkey. 

Morocco and Mauritania have a qualified group of university professors, engineers and scientists that is well networked, however lacks appropriately equipped research centres.  Through this SPS project, funding for equipment will enable both scientific communities to have access to the latest research hardware and to be able to develop leading-edge applied research topics.

What are the objectives

In developing a bottom-up capacity building process through effective collaboration between Morocco and Mauritania’s main scientific communities, this projects aims at addressing energy strategy to support a long term vision.

Other major objectives of the project will be:

  • the creation of an interdependent network of industrial and academic expertise;
  • to exploit regional wind energy resources;
  • to adapt state of the art technologies to real world applications.

The emphasis of this three-year project is on developing a sustainable effort that the end-users can take forward on the local level to the benefit of academia and industry.  This project will not only make recommendations to the end users but it will also assist and support them to develop improved pilot projects leading to industrial scale applications.  Cooperation between the two countries is destined to be successful as they both face the same problem of disposing of a widely untapped energy source while faced with the difficulties of harnessing it.

It is predicted, that being able to store the energy from the Sahara Trade Winds as hydrogen, to be used as an alternative renewable energy source, could have a positive effect on environmental security for the region, generating increased economic activity and ultimately leading to greater stability.