Photovoltaic: growth prospects in MENA region
MENA Countries decided to invest, until 2020, 50 million of dollar in photovoltaic energy – the most renewable resource that abounds in this region-will reach $ 50 billion by 2020. This data are in Mesia Report (Mesia is an association of solar industries in the Middle East). This report also states that -in the next six years- 37GW of green energy projects will be commissioned to North Africa and Middle East, and of these, one-third (12-15 GW) will be in solar field.
Photovoltaic energy, in fact, in the Middle East and North Africa has significant potential still “unexploited” – it says a study published by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), which analyzes the global outlook for the sector until 2018. The current situation in Europe is characterized by a decrease in the number of new plants (after the boom of 2011 that saw the protagonists in particular Italy and Germany). In the countries of the MENA region is the opposite, even though, by now, there are lower percentages compared to those of the old continent, the trend is the growth.
The PV market of the MENA countries, which today corresponds to 2-4% of the global market, it should go to represent 7-10% by 2018. Instead in Europe, growth will be slower and especially below the previous expectations, coming in four years at 25% (compared to today’s 21%).
The opposite trend between the two shores of the Mediterranean is evident also from the point of view of system installations: in 2011 Europe had the 74% of new installations of photovoltaic systems in the world; in 2012 there were the 55% and only the 29% in 2013. Percentage of European plants will decrease by 50-51% of today to 36-37% in 2018. Mena region could instead achieve the 5% (starting from 1- 3% in 2014).
The World Energy Congress implemented a plan, with a margin of forecast up to 2035, which underline the shift in demand towards energy non-OECD countries, with emphasis on how the Middle East will take a central role in deployment of renewable energy in the MENA region.
Specifically, Saudi Arabia has begun the most important country in Arabian Peninsula for size and investment: the country wants develop 54.1 GW (the equivalent of fifty atomic power plants) of renewable energy by 2030, of which 41 GW of solar energy exploitation, 16 GW guaranteed by photovoltaic and 25 GW by solar thermal power. The remaining GW will be insured through wind and geothermal energy.
The official position of the Saudi Kingdom about the new energy strategy is to preserve as long as possible the internal reserves, but not because the fear of their exhaustion: in fact, the domestic demand for electricity will be triple over the next 20 years and for that reason it’s necessary to make a transition to a balanced energy mix, strengthening the ability of Saudi Arabia to meet the future demand of international oil prices. Renewable energy -by 2030- should cover at least a third of the local energy needs, compared to the current 1%. So, if the Saudi monarchy is not able to implement the ambitious energy strategy, it is destined in 2030 to burn 850 million barrels per year (as much as 30% of its production). This situation will remove Saudi Arabia from exports and weakening its role at the international level and weight. Saudi government, to develop the energy plan and its projects, planned investments of more than $ 100 billion: the first tenders were launched in mid-2013, for the construction of 1100 MW of solar and 900 MW of solar thermal power.
In the region: Kuwait, however, is engaged in a multi technological energy park. Qatar looks to polysilicones to power the air conditioning systems of the stadiums during the World Cup of Soccer. Oman uses the solar technologies in the extraction process of oil.
The United Arab Emirates, already pioneers in the industry with the ambitious project of Masdar City (the town eco-friendly with zero emissions, fully powered by clean technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal; with green buildings and sustainable public transport; which arise mainly offices of companies in the green economy, local and international), have budgeted investments of over $ 100 billion in various projects for alternative energy by 2020: new photovoltaic plants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the largest desalination plant in the world powered by solar, Ras al Khaimah.
The energy policy of the UAE main challenge is the supply diversification: the goal is to produce 2,500 MW from renewable sources, while 5.4 MW will be achieved by peaceful nuclear energy program. UAE also planned investments to reduce the energy deficit, with projects made with the programs of development and assistance to developing countries to implement modern energy acts to reduce about 30% of the national consumption by 2030, bringing so the net more than 1000 MW of solar power. The country has, in fact, committed to producing 7% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Even Jordan and Morocco are particularly involved in the development of the renewable energy sector within their energy plans. With the help of foreign investment (Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union), the two monarchies have begun, with relevant legislative and regulatory reform, strategic plans for the development of renewable energy.
Jordan imports as much as 96% of its energy need and, with the increase of population (mainly due to the huge influx of Syrian refugees in the past two years), also the Kingdom energy need is increased and, as a consequence, government expanded expenditure in energy sector. The emergence of energy in the items of the state budget has deep roots, dating back to 2007 and to the worldwide surge in the prices of imported oil. The new Energy Strategy Plan aims at a different distribution of the energy mix, acting as a principal objective in the reduction of dependence on imported oil and natural gas and to promote the use of renewable energy, oil shale and nuclear power. The strategic plan developed for renewable energy, and the contribution of non-conventional energy in the energy mix Jordanian could steps from 1% in 2007 to 7% by 2015 and 10% by 2020: the generation of electricity from renewable sources will consist of 600-1000 MW from wind energy, solar energy, and 30-50 MW 300-600 MW from the combustion of waste.
Morocco, however, dependences totally to imported hydrocarbons – that are about the 95% of the national energy demand. The country wants to reduce this dependence and reduce also its domestic electricity demand, so it has invested heavily in renewable energy projects, particularly in solar and wind, (as demonstrated by the projects in the cities of Salé and Ouarzazate). The government, in fact, has the ambitious goal to cover -by 2020- the 42% of its needs through renewable energy. Finally there is Desertec – a Morocco plan for the construction of several solar and wind power – which -by 2050- should produce about 15-20% of European electricity demand and a significant portion of the demand local power. The program, however, has slowed down considerably due to the political turmoil of the area, to the rising construction costs, and to the EU decision, which has cut the budget for the financing of the network infrastructure, and finally, Desertec Foundation (the soul of the civil project) left the consortium DII (Desertec Industrial Initiative).