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MENA region focuses on harnessing solar energy
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 07 - 2012

JEDDAH/LONDON – As the MENA region sets sights on solar energy, a three-day solar power forum will take place in Abu Dhabi starting this coming Sept. 17 aimed at discussing and tackling related issues.
Saudi Arabia alone has over a $1 billion being invested into the production of solar power to secure the nation's future energy.
With recent growth in technical advancements in the market, it is plain to see why the Saudis will maximize this natural resource and optimize it as a possible source of future revenue.
In May, the Saudi government peaked interest in its solar energy scene by announcing that the Kingdom planned to install 41 GW of solar systems by 2032, and to build up wind, geothermal, and nuclear energy sources.
Likewise, banks in Qatar have given new impetus to the country's solar energy ambitions, financing the construction of the first solar-grade polysilicon production plant to the tune of $1.1 billion. The plant is a joint venture between the Qatar Foundation that brings together Qatar Electricity and Water (QEWC) and Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec). The plant, located in the Ras Laffan Industrial City, will have an 8,000 metric ton capacity and the first phase of construction is expected to be completed in mid-2013. Ultimately, this will be the foundation of the country's solar industry as the plant will provide materials for the manufacture of solar panels.
One of the first major Middle East renewable energy projects originated in the United Arab Emirates, in the form of the construction of a massive city, Masdar City, that focuses on renewable energy, including electric public transportation.
In North Africa, Morocco has led the renewable energy race, first in 2009 with a $9 billion investment in a national solar plan that aims to eventually provide nearly 40 percent of the country's energy needs, and second through an ambitious concentrated solar power (CSP) project.
CSP, as opposed to solar panel installation (photovoltaics), is undertaken at massive plants where sunlight is converted into heat, which in turn drives a steam turbine that generates electricity. – SG/QJM


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