In this paper, we propose a novel technique to determine the optimal placement of wind farms, thereby taking into account wind characteristics and electrical grid constraints. We model the long-term variability of wind speed using a Weibull distribution according to wind direction intervals, and formulate the metrics that capture wind speed characteristics at a specific location, namely the arithmetic mean of wind speed, the theoretical wind power density and the capacity factor of a prospective wind power plant, to determine the feasibility of a wind power plant establishment. Furthermore, a linear optimization formulation is provided to determine the geographical locations and the installed capacities of wind farms, in order to maximize the expected annual wind power generation, while obeying the constraints from the electrical power grid and the transmission system operator. As a case study, the proposed wind speed model and the linear optimization formulation are used to evaluate the wind characteristics and the potential wind farm sites in Turkey. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.