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A new report predicts that the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region could see more than $50 billion worth of solar power investment by 2020 as regional governments recognize the opportunity afforded by their country’s sun-belt status. 

The Mena Solar Energy Report 2014, published by MEED Insight in association with the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), found that between 12,000MW and 15,000MW worth of solar projects are either in the planning stages or have been commissioned to start by the end of the decade.

Ed James, head of MEED Insight and the report’s author says, “Of the 14 countries covered in-depth by this report, installed solar capacity stood at just 271MW as of January 2014. Renewable energy as a whole including hydropower and wind power comprises over 16,600MW, representing over [sic] six percent of the total, came from renewable energy sources. The majority was in the form of hydroelectric power plants with a capacity of 15,205MW, while wind energy contributed 1,129MW.”

The contribution of solar power to the energy mix has the potential to change dramatically as existing fossil fuel resources begin to diminish and the demand for power increases.

James notes, “By far the largest potential solar power market in the region is Saudi Arabia. In its recently published White Paper, the King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy (KA-Care) said it envisaged installing 23,900MW of renewable energy by 2020. The majority of that total would be split between CSP and solar photovoltaic PV projects. If realized, the program would be one of the largest single solar power initiatives not just in the region but in the world.”

While Saudi Arabia is set to become the undisputed Mena leader in solar power Morocco, Egypt, and Algeria also plan to have at least 1,500MW, 1,800MW, and 3,000MW of solar power respectively in place. However, the report warns that achieving those goals requires the right regulatory frameworks and conditions to attract the necessary investors.

MESIA’s research director Dr. Steve Griffiths agrees. “Regional challenges exist for achieving widespread deployment of solar power, including lack of supportive policy frameworks, subsidies for fossil-based power generation, and access to financing. The 2014 MENA Solar Power Market Report shows that many countries in the region are now overcoming these challenges and beginning to realize the potential of solar power to play a key role in their future energy systems.”

 

 

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