Over the years, some staggering figures have highlighted how solar thermal power in the MENA region could play a key role in developing alternatives to coal and natural gas combustion.
For instance, a couple of years ago, a study by the German Aerospace Center estimated that harnessing the sun's energy falling on just 6,000 square kilometers of desert in North Africa would supply energy equivalent to the entire oil production of the Middle East of nine billion barrels a year.
The study indicated that solar thermal power plants could supply 68 percent of North Africa's as well as Europe's electricity by 2050.
The sentiments have only got stronger with the passage of time.
Energy demand, perfect conditions and significant capital investment opportunities all continue to make this region a highly attractive place for solar technologies.
"The technical potential especially in North Africa is immense and it could lead to a bright future for these regions," said Dr. GŁnter Schneider, managing director, Enolcon GmbH.
One of the key components of a CSP project is related to effectively calculating the risks and possible mitigations associated with such initiatives. And this is one aspect, for which the MENA region could take a clue and learn from relatively mature markets.
According to Dr. Schneider, the crucial factor in CSP is the 'bankability' or 'financeability' of such projects.
Also, there is a lot more to consider other than a professional feasibility study and a convincing basic engineering with Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). It is important to have partners on the board, taking responsibility for their performance and supplies like solar field, power block etc.
Also, the financial model must be consistent with the data and costs, added Dr. Schneider.
Dr. Schneider is scheduled to speak about CSP project development phases at the forthcoming CSP, CPV and Thin Film Summit MENA, scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi in June (2-3) this year.
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