A new report reveals that the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) has increased commitment to renewable energy, and of the 106 renewable projects planned for the territory, 41.5% are wind-based.
The authors of the MENA Renewables Status Report analyze renewable energy markets, industry, policy and investment trends, concluding that the region’s sustainable energy market has grown considerably in the last decade, due largely to its extensive renewable energy resources.
The report notes a sea-change in the renewable energy plans of net oil-exporting countries in particular, which now make up more than 80% of MENA’s announced 107 gigawatt capacity additions. The finding shows how renewables are increasingly being considered as a profitable alternative to domestic oil and gas consumption.
The International Renewable Energy Agency, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Directorate of Energy and Climate Change published the report, which maps the key reasons for MENA’s shift to renewable energy as:
- Energy security enhancement
- Major energy demand growth due to population increase
- Urbanization and economic progress
- Water scarcity
As of May 2013, all 21 MENA countries have renewable energy goals in place, with 19 explicitly listing clean technology as an important area to address. This marks a dramatic shift from 2007, when just five countries in the region had renewable targets. The report states that 18 of the 21 MENA countries have renewable energy promotion policies in place to help achieve these goals.
The report also suggests that diversification efforts will increase in coming years, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Saudi Arabia, the prime net oil exporter of the area, is even turning to wind energy. This is largely prompted by its swift population growth which makes its dependence on oil and gas fired power stations for electricity increasingly untenable. By 2032, the country hopes to achieve 9 gigawatts of wind capacity.
Arthouros Zervos, Chair, REN21, said: “The MENA Renewables Status Report provides unparalleled insights into the MENA region, an emerging renewable energy champion. In just the last two years, renewable energy has transformed from a niche interest to a regional phenomenon reaching almost US$3 billion investment in 2012alone.”
Adnan Amin, Director General, IRENA, said in a statement: “From IRENA’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, we have been uniquely placed to witness renewable energy become a multi-billion dollar industry within the MENA region. Since 2008, modern renewable energy production has grown at a much faster rate than fossil fuels and, with 106 renewable energy projects currently in the pipeline, this trend is likely to continue. By implementing ambitious targets, and enabling strong regulatory and institutional frameworks, governments across the region are driving the growth of renewable energy, and showing growing recognition of its broad macro-economic benefits.”
National governments and publicly-owned electricity companies are prominent in the region’s expanding renewable energy investment, as are international organizations such as the World Bank Group. However, the report also highlights that major oil and gas companies such as Saudi Aramco have spent large amounts of money developing their presence within the solar market.