Meeting MENA's energy needs: Has the solar boom begun?

The ‘sun belt' region has been coined as the emerging solar market for several years, up to this point the large potential for renewable resources in the Middle East has remained largely untapped.

This is especially true of solar power; it's potential in the MENA region alone far exceeds global electricity demand.

However things are set to change with the current Spanish crisis destabilising one of the leading solar markets, and USA regulatory hurdles making solar development a pain staking process with weighty financial burdens. The time has come for the MENA region to deliver on its promise, and 2011 is the year we can expect the market to significantly move forward. Company heavyweights such as CH2MHill, WorleyParsons, AREVA, Siemens, ABB, Schott, Abengoa & Acciona are not only closely monitoring the opportunities presented in the North Africa and Middle East market, but are active players positioning themselves for when the industry explodes.

The CSP & PV potential

According to a report by the Electrical Engineering Department at King Saud University, the Middle East receives 3,000 - 3,500 hours of sunshine per year, with more than 5.0 kW/m2 ofsolar energy per day.

Clearly demonstrating there is an energy demand, market and capacity for both CSP and PV technologies including CPV and Thin Film. An EPIA report compiled an accelerated scenario, with 66 sunbelt countries based within 35° of the Equator. They concluded the installed solar PV capacity can expect to reach 405 GW by 2030, bringing electricity to around 300 million people and make up 2.5-6% of the sunbelt's overall power generation.

Interestingly, amongst the new CSP markets, the largest build-up of CSP capacity expected will be in MENA. 1430 MW of projects have been announced, with total investment in North Africa predicted to reach $5.6 billion, tripling current investment in CSP technology. In the IEA scenario North Africa would most likely export about half its production to Europe, making this an important region politically and commercially.

Accelerating the MENA solar revolution

In 2009 & 2010 countries across North Africa and Middle East publically demonstrated their eagerness to harness their solar energy, become a solar hub and export the power to Europe. These are big dreams, but what is the reality? As part of the event launch for MENASOL 2011 taking place 4-5 May in Morocco, the organisers have published a country profile report detailing the public and private initiatives in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

For more information about MENASOL 2011, 4-5 May, Morocco contact:

Heidi Hafes
Event Director
CSP, CPV & Thin Film Today
+44 207 375 7206

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