Investing in the Vast Solar Energy Potential of the Middle East and North Africa

Arguably, the Middle East and North Africa are ripe for renewable energy investment, particularly in the solar energy sector and specifically in terms of concentrated solar power (CSP).

Because it relies on its own oil, it can afford the massive subsidies necessary to weather the transformation that could eventually make renewable energy affordable and accessible. Those subsidies become more affordable when Middle Eastern governments take stock of the savings on rising domestic oil and gas consumption that can be diverted to more revenue-generating exports.

A number of recent developments highlight the push for renewable energy in the MENA region, from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious solar plans to Qatar’s first-ever polysilicon plant and massive concentrated solar power plants across North Africa.

In May, the Saudi government peaked interest in its solar energy scene by announcing that the kingdom planned to install 41 GW of solar systems by 2032, and to build up wind, geothermal, and nuclear energy sources.

Banks in Qatar have given new impetus to the country’s solar energy ambitions, financing the construction of the first solar-grade polysilicon production plant to the tune of $1.1 billion. The plant is a joint venture between the Qatar Foundation that brings together Qatar Electricity and Water (QEWC) and Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec). The plant, located in the Ras Laffan Industrial City, will have an 8,000 metric ton capacity and the first phase of construction is expected to be completed in mid-2013. Ultimately, this will be the foundation of the country’s solar industry as the plant will provide materials for the manufacture of solar panels.

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4 responses to “Investing in the Vast Solar Energy Potential of the Middle East and North Africa

  1. “(T)he massive subsidies necessary to weather the transformation that could eventually make renewable energy affordable and accessible”, when withdrawn, inevitably lead to the collapse of the subsidy-dependent industries. They have already done so.
    As an aside, solar power systems have not yet been developed that can operate without fault or failure during 200 km/hr sandstorms, or after being buried under sand dunes. Recall that one of North Africa’s largest monuments, the Sphinx, was buried up to its chin in sand when surveyed by Napoleon’s Army, and entire cities have disappeared under sandstorms.

  2. But, tadchem, if we transition to sustainable sources of energy, global warming will be averted and there won’t be any more severe weather. Right?

  3. Good luck keeping the islamotards from from going explodeydope if you set foot on there land.

  4. The bad news is that the sun disappears every night. Also, these things will make great targets in any conflict.

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