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KSA to lead in MENA solar output
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 12 - 01 - 2013

JEDDAH – The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be installing nearly 3.5GW of solar capacity a year by 2015, led by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, GTM Research said in a new report.
The increase, from an almost negligible level today, reflects the wrenching shift from incentive-led markets in places like Germany and Italy to those with “fundamental solar drivers”, such as lots of sun, growing electricity demand, and high power prices.
Total power generation capacity in the Gulf Cooperation Council is expected to rise by at least 60GW over the next five years, fuelled by population growth, urbanization and economic expansion in the region.
The rapid blossoming of the MENA market, home to many of the world's largest carbon emitters, offers vast opportunities for the ailing global solar supply chain – both on the PV and concentrated solar power (CSP) side. But the region will also be challenging market for many existing PV companies, which will need to forge local partnerships for cultural and political reasons. The report, which predicts that MENA countries will account for 8 percent of global solar demand in 2015, was produced in association with the Emirates Solar Industry Association.
While the same basic factors will be behind growth in most MENA markets, a closer look at Saudi Arabia and Turkey – slated to account for 70 percent of MENA's demand in 2015 – underscores important distinctions between them.
Fundamentally, MENA countries are split between oil producers and exporters, and the financial structure of projects and drivers for investment are very different for the two categories.
The principal motivation behind Saudi Arabia's solar targets – 16GW of PV and 25GW of CSP by 2030 – is to conserve valuable oil for export.
Saudi Arabia's first solar project will likely be built in 2014. The Kingdom has also announced a renewable energy strategy which includes 16GW of PV facilities by 2030.
Meanwhile, Turkey is the first country in the region with a feed-in tariff (FIT) already in place, and will be the first MENA market to experience significant PV demand.
Turkey's push toward renewables is driven in part by its reliance on gas from Iran and Russia.
The commercial and industrial rooftop PV segments will form the basis of near-term Turkish demand.
Turkey has a formal 3GW solar target for 2023, but GTM believes it is likely to exceed that level of capacity significantly.
The MENA region possesses the greatest technical potential for renewable energy in the world with much of this potential attributed to solar energy. This potential is now starting to be more seriously considered, driven by rapidly increasing energy usage, high insolation rates, a young and empowered workforce, and an increasing awareness of the costs of burning natural resources.
The report noted that the MENA region has the “greatest technical potential” for renewable energy in the world, mostly in solar. The potential is believed to be driven by rapidly increasing energy usage, a young and empowered workforce and an increasing awareness of the costs of burning natural resources.
Scott Burger, GTM Research analyst and the report's author said: “In terms of solar energy, it is clear that the MENA region is set to experience significant change over the next five years. While Saudi Arabia will likely be the largest market in the long term, there will be significant opportunities throughout the region. With strategic planning and a solid development of local partners and supply chains, savvy companies will be able to capitalize on all of the opportunities in the region.”
Qatar has plans to install 1.8GW of PV capacity by 2014, Dubai aims to source 5 percent of its power supply from solar by 2030 and Abu Dhabi is commissioning a 100MW solar power plant.
The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Morocco, have ambitious solar power generation goals as well as evolving policies and regulatory frameworks to support these goals. Demonstration projects are being deployed in some countries, while large-scale projects are being deployed in others. However, in a region undergoing dramatic political and social change, questions remain as to the long-term outlook for solar energy. In this report, we discuss the drivers for adoption, the major players and stakeholders, the overall market structure, and the long-term outlook of each solar market in the MENA region. — SG


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