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.