A spirit of optimism in the MENA region

20. February 2013 | By:  Intersolar Europe

On February 20, a networking event co-organized by Intersolar Europe and EuPD Research as part of the Joint Forces for Solar initiative takes place in Saudi Arabia to shed light on the future of solar energy in the Middle East and North Africa.

The solar market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is geared up for growth: By 2015, the regional market for photovoltaics and solar thermal power plants is expected to grow to a total output of 3.5 gigawatts (GW).

Saudi Arabia in particular is planning to move away from generating energy using oil in favor of photovoltaics and solar thermal technologies. The PV Briefing & Networking Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, allows Intersolar Europe to take an in-depth look at the new orientation of the country's energy policy, and the opportunities this brings for the international solar industry.

The event entitled “Saudi Arabia targets 41 GW of solar by 2032 – what does this mean today?” takes place at the Sheraton Riyadh Hotel & Towers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on February 20. 15 representatives from politics, research and the solar industry discuss the future of solar energy in the region in front of an audience of around 180 attendees. The event is organized by Intersolar Europe and EuPD Research (Bonn) in collaboration with the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA) from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the local partner.

In 2011, more money was spent worldwide on constructing renewable power plants than on building oil, coal or gas-fired power stations. At $147 billion, the investment volume for solar energy was almost double that for wind energy. According to a survey by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the photovoltaic capacity installed worldwide is set to reach around 230 GW by 2017, and the capacity of solar thermal power plants is to increase to 11 GW.

This trend towards an intensified use of solar power is also becoming established in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). According to GTM Research (Boston, Massachusetts) and the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA), an annual volume of 3.5 GW is to be expected for the MENA region's solar market by 2015. The survey cites the high insolation levels and the rising price of, and demand for, electricity caused by the region's increasing population size as the main reasons for the significant interest in investments in new solar power plants.

Sunny prospects for the solar market in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia intends to contribute extensively to the expansion of solar energy in the MENA region. According to the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), the kingdom is planning to add an additional 41 GW of solar power by 2032, with 16 GW to be generated by photovoltaics and 25 GW by solar thermal power plants.

Saudi Arabia wants to do more than just construct power plants, however: Taking Germany as a model, it is planning to build up its own solar industry that covers the entire value-added chain. Its first step towards creating a solar market of international importance was the construction of a 55,000 square meter PV installation with an output of 3.5 megawatts (MW), which was opened in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in December 2012.

Joint Forces for Solar PV Briefing & Networking Forum Saudi Arabia

The Joint Forces for Solar (JF4S) initiative is using the growing interest in solar energy in the countries of the MENA region as an opportunity to organize the “PV Briefing & Networking Forum” on February 20. The focus of the forum is on the development in Saudi Arabia. The initiative brings together players from the solar industry's entire value-added chain, ranging from international corporations and industry associations to local installation companies.

The one-day event entitled “Saudi Arabia targets 41 GW of solar by 2032 – what does this mean today?” takes place at the Sheraton Riyadh Hotel & Towers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A total of 15 international and local experts from politics, research and the solar industry discuss the future of solar energy in the region in front of an audience of around 180 participants from around the world.

The focus is on issues such as the prospects of global solar markets, the economic climate in Saudi Arabia and the country's local political and legal conditions, as well as the topic PV Power Plants – Best Practice. The final part of the program is a panel discussion on “How to ensure sustainable market growth for Saudi Arabia & the Middle East region”. The event is organized by Intersolar Europe and EuPD Research (Bonn) in collaboration with the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA) from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the local partner.

For more information on the JF4S Networking Forum please visit http://nm.jointforces4solar.com/events/jf4ssaudi-arabia/key-facts.html

Intersolar Europe 2013 takes place at Messe München from June 19–21.