Survey: Dubai, Jordan and Saudi Arabia MENA high potential markets

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DNV GL has published the finds of a survey of regulators, EPCs, developers, manufacturers and investors involved with the MENA region’s solar markets. Somewhat unsurprisingly Jordan is seen as the market with the highest short term potential in the region.

Jordan’s PV feed-in tariff, the only in the region, and its tender process for large scale projects, is seen by survey participants as being the primary drivers of its solar market. Jordan offers a FIT for projects under 5 MW in size, and has launched its second utility scale tender.

Dubai trails Jordan only slightly, in survey respondents’ expectations, with the 200 MW Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) Al-Maktoum Solar Park, a bid won by AQWA, piquing the most interest. Dubai is also seen as likely to achieve its seven percent generating capacity solar goal for 2020. That share is targeted to increase to 15% by 2013.

An 800 MW third phase of the Dubai tender, administered by DEWA, is taking shape, giving further reasons for high expectations about the market.

Looking further ahead to long term expectations, which is beyond two years by the DNV GL survey metric, Saudi Arabia is seen as the MENA market with the highest potent. Just yesterday in Vienna, speaking at an OPEC press event, Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi singled out solar as one of the key topics he was hoping to see discussed by OPEC representatives.

Bloomberg published al-Naimi’s comments in the following exchange with a journalist:

Reporter: What would you like to hear from the oil executives over the next two days?

Al-Naimi: What do they think the future holds? … On the whole energy spectrum.

Reporter: What do you think is interesting that is going on right now in the energy spectrum?

Al-Naimi: Solar energy. It’s an opportunity for everybody.

While the comments by the Saudi oil minister are certainly promising, movement in terms of solar development in the oil-rich Kingdom has been minimal. Earlier this year, renewable energy targets were pushed back by ten years, giving further cause for concern over solar adoption in the country.

Falls in petroleum prices were seen likely to make an negative impact on solar development in Saudi Arabia, according the DNV GL respondents. Over 60% surveyed said that falling oil and therefore petroleum prices would hold solar back in Saudi Arabia. This was also seen to be true of Qatar and Kuwait in the survey data.

However overall, the DNV GL survey showed that the sentiment about solar industry participants is that low petroleum prices will have a neutral effect on PV development in the region.

The full DNV GL survey results can be accessed here.

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