Oil price driving PV development in the Middle East

21. January 2013 | Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends, Investor news | By:  Max Hall

U.S. solar module manufacturer-turned-plant-developer First Solar is targeting the Middle East and north Africa as a growth market as oil and gas-rich nations look to reduce their domestic reliance on such fuels to maximize export returns.

Abu Dhabi.

The price of oil is driving photovoltaics in the Middle East and north Africa.

Talking to Bloomberg, First Solar's chief technology officer Raffi Garabedian confirmed the U.S. giant's decision to diversify into plant development, using its own modules, had made it more competitive on the international stage.

Garabedian confirmed that the driver for photovoltaics across the Middle East and the Sahel was a desire from fossil-fuel-rich governments to maximise oil and gas exports.

With European Brent crude oil trading at more than US$110 per barrel, the cost to oil producing nations of burning such fuel at a subsidized rate for domestic customers was as high as $90/barrel, according to Adnan Amin, director general of the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency, also quoted in the Bloomberg article.

Those figures mean solar, in the form of photovoltaics and even the more expensive CSP, are at grid parity when export losses are factored in.

The countries across the oil-producing region are experiencing a rising demand for electricity.

Mr Garabedian was interviewed during last week's World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

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