Middle East’s renewable energy ambitions finally coming to fruition

20. February 2013 | By:  Sharath Ravi

Masdar and DEWA reveal large solar projects. PV market could grow by as much as 700% by 2015.

Recent reports from the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia detailing their respective national energy plans are attracting the attention of leading international renewable energy solution and service providers.

While there has been much talk of the region’s desire to diversify, some have been sceptical whether these plans would be realised. However initial Q1 announcements have been extremely promising, indicating the MENA region’s PV sector alone could rise to 3.5 GW annually by 2015.

One of the leaders in this field is the Mubadala-owned entity, Masdar. Masdar City is UAE’s flagship project, which Masdar and the UAE Government believe showcases the true potential of renewable energy by being the world’s first 100% clean energy city.

Toufic Mezher, Professor of Engineering Systems and Management at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) confirmed: “Masdar will soon be announcing the commissioning of the largest solar CSP power plant [located in Abu Dhabi], the 100 MW Shams 1 project.”

Mezher is also speaking about best case practices in renewable energy policies at the 4th Annual Qatar Alternative Energy Investors Summit, taking place in Doha on March 24th and 25th. “This summit will address the major critical challenges facing the GCC region in the future. New investments in infrastructures, especially in the energy and water sectors are needed to meet the economic and population growth of each country” he added.

First Solar, one of the world’s largest fully integrated PV solution providers is also participating at the summit, as they are looking to expand their business in the MENA region. They have also secured the project to build a 13 MW solar power plant for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, DEWA’s Managing Director and CEO explained: "The PV plant installation is a key step in the implementation of the energy diversification strategy adopted by the Supreme Council of Energy, in which solar energy is set to become part of Dubai's energy portfolio. The strategy is based on Dubai's growing energy requirements and aims to maintain security of supply in the Emirate of Dubai."

First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development and Sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Christopher Burghardt gave his reasons for attending the summit: “It’s an exciting platform to demonstrate our capabilities and build lasting relationships in a region that is starting to embrace the full potential of clean energy. Attending allows new and existing business partners to see first-hand our strengths right across the PV value chain.”

Organised by French business information group naseba, supported by Kahramaa and opened by their President, His Excellency Engineer Essa Bin Hilal Al Kuwari, the summit is bringing together 150 regional decision makers to meet global leaders in renewable energy.

In an earlier statement, His Excellency Essa Bin Hilal Al Kuwari confirmed: “Kahramaa has also started developing a 150 to 200 MW generation capacity project from solar power by utilising the unused areas in its electricity grid stations and water reservoir stations.”