MENA solar market worth $50bn by 2020

The middle east and north Africa region (MENA) could see $50 billion of solar investment by 2020 according to a new report by the region’s solar energy trade body.

The Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), together with Meed Insights, has produced the MENA Solar Energy report, which says 37 GW of renewable energy projects are set to be commissioned across the region in the next six years, with solar providing 12-15 GW of the mix.

Saudi Arabia leads the way, at least in terms of ambition, with the kingdom aiming for 23.9 GW of renewables generation amid plans to plough $109 billion into solar and nuclear power by 2032.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to spend $102 billion on alternative energy generation by 2020 and is already working on two new PV parks, as well as the world’s largest seawater desalination plant, in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

With the sultanate of Oman investing in solar-powered oil extraction, Qatar planning to use PV-powered air conditioning for its controversial 2022 football World Cup and Kuwait establishing a renewable energy park and Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Jordan boasting ambitious renewables plans, the MESIA report warned there are still hurdles to overcome in the region.

The research cites a lack of supportive policy frameworks, ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and a lack of access to financing as handicaps to the MENA renewables sector.

GCC countries to co-ordinate solar efforts

In an effort to promote transnational co-operation, the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA) was set to officially launched the Solar GCC Alliance at the Future World Energy Summit (WFES) which opened in Abu Dhabi today.

The group will seek to foster co-operation between solar players in the six member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council – Saudi, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain – as well as extending an invite to the solar industries of Jordan and Morocco in future.

The WFES, which is being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center until Wednesday, also saw the launch of the Young Solar Champions Scholarship Program by the newly-formed alliance. The program will see young professionals from the countries in question undergo a five-day course provided by the Berlin-based Renewables Academy to train as senior and middle managers for solar projects.

And in a sign of the increasing importance of the MENA region, German inverter manufacturer Kaco New Energy has opened an office in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Kaco and its Saudi partner Advanced Electronics Company (AEC) unveiled the Saudi-manufactured Shams range of inverters at the Joint Forces for Solar trade show in September and the range, from 20 kW to 1.5 MW in size, will be distributed across the region from the new Riyadh base.