Solar power to shine in Middle East

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Saudi Arabia's biggest ground-mounted photovoltaic plant located on the grounds of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia’s biggest ground-mounted photovoltaic plant located on the grounds of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh. Image courtesy-KAPSARC

New projects, worth an estimated combined USD 6.8 billion, are being launched to boost solar power in the Middle East.

A total of ten projects, based in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, will harness the enormous potential offered by solar power in the region. Several investors have already expressed their interest in these projects. The three-day conference, which will begin from February 17, will provide a platform for solar technology experts and potential investors to discuss the policy framework and develop solutions to make optimal use of year-round sunshine in the region.

According to Jigar Shah, chairman of the inaugural Solar Middle East Conference, “everyone is desperate to invest in the Middle East solar industry, they are all just waiting for clear instructions from the governments in the region. The economics of switching to solar energy are far better here than in South Africa, India, Brazil, China and the US. Now that the costs of developing solar technologies have significantly declined, it is time for the Middle East to turn talk into action.”

The use of renewable energy sources holds great promise in Middle East. In 2014, Qatar is expected to announce a tender for 1,800 megawatt solar energy plant, costing around USD 10-20 billion. Upon completion, electrical output from this project will make up about 16% of the country’s total production by 2018. Saudi Arabia is also on the lookout for investment in its USD 109 billion solar energy program, which will provide a third of electricity needs by 2032.

Most of the regional Arab countries are making conscious efforts to reduce their reliance on oil and gas, and explore alternative sources for energy production. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) are also closely collaborating to incentivize innovative renewable energy projects in developing countries. The two bodies will be providing funding to encourage projects that tap the opportunities in renewable energy sector.

 

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