Wednesday, May 15, 2019

MENA's Renewable Energy Leadership

In much of the world year over year growth of renewables has slowed, but countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are outpacing the norm. According to recent International Energy Agency (IEA) data, 2018 was the first year since 2001 that renewable energy growth failed to increase year on year. New net capacity from renewable sources was about 180 Gigawatts (GW), which is equivalent to the previous year. However, the report indicates that renewable capacity accelerated in many countries in the MENA region last year.

The energy sector in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to see $1 trillion in investment over the next five years. Electricity demand in MENA is expected to grow by 7 percent annually driving increasing demand for inexpensive sources of energy. Solar energy has emerged as the cheapest source of regional power but wind is also increasingly cost effective.

In 2017 there were 5.7 GWs in the solar energy pipeline in the MENA region. In 2018 that number increased to 13 GWs. Egypt, Morocco and Jordan are leaders in solar PV projects but smaller countries like Oman and Kuwait have also built large scale solar installations.

The clean energy future looks bright for MENA countries. According to an analysis from MAKE Consulting declining costs will help to drive wind capacity in the Middle East and Africa to 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2026. Regional countries that are leading the charge in wind energy include Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran.

In terms of total planned output five MENA countries emerge as renewable energy leaders. They are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is looking to grow the amount of energy it generates from renewables. Under the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) Saudi Arabia is planning to get 59 GW of energy from clean sources by 2030. Construction will soon start on the 300 MW solar PV plant at Sakaka in the northwest of the country. They have targeted a 10-year time span to develop and produce solar components capable of generating 140 GW of power. The 400 MW Dumat Al Jandal wind farm is the countries first such farm.
In 2017, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman announced a plan to establish what is called the  NEOM mega-city project with investments of $500 billion. Renewable energy is an integral part of this project.

Saudi alfanar recently announced that it was looking at $1.6 billion worth renewable energy projects over the next few years. Alfanar has reportedly signed contracts to implement energy projects with total capacity of 1.4GW. This includes a $250 million, 250 MW wind farm in Egypt and a 50MW solar power plant in Benban, Aswan.


Egypt has put forward comprehensive large scale plans to build and produce electricity from renewable resources. The country is striving towards the ambitious national goal of 42 percent  renewable generated electricity by 2035

Egypt is making strides toward achieving an ambitious national goal for renewables to make up 42 percent of the country’s electricity mix by 2035. Its solar PV program, which includes the enormous new Benban complex near Aswan launching later this year, should yield 3-4 GW of solar power coming online during the next 2-3 years. Wind capacity include the Zaafarana and Gabal El Zeit wind farms which collectively generate 1 GW of power.


Morocco plans to meet 42 percent of its energy requirements with renewables by 2020 and 52 percent by 2030.  The country's biggest solar financing project is the $2.4 billion, 800 megawatt NOORm Midelt PV and solar thermal portfolio. The Moroccan Solar Energy Program is developing five solar complexes with a combined capacity of approximately 2GW by 2020. This includes two hybrid concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) plants in central Morocco.

The 580 MW NOOR Ouarzazate solar project will become fully operational this year followed by the 800 MW NOOR Midelt project. Morocco's wind energy projects include the 300 MW Tarfaya wind farm which is one of several new or planned wind farms in the Western Sahara area.

United Arab Emirates


The renewable energy goal of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is 44 percent by 2050. Dubai is the largest and most populace city in the UAE and it intends to get 75 percent of its total power output from clean energy by 2050. They have the enormous MBR Solar Park in the desert 30 miles south of the city. The solar park’s Phase 3, is a solar PV array capable of generating 800 MW. It will be completed in 2020. Phase 4 is a 950 MW solar CSP/PV complex, it will consist of 700 MW CSP with up to 15 hours storage, and a further 250 MW of solar PV capacity.

UAE's capital Abu Dhabi has the 1.2 GW Sweihan solar PV plant, which is the world’s largest single location solar PV plant. It is expected to be completed and come online later this year. Planning is underway for the 1.5 GW Sweihan II plant. Up to four new solar PV plants are planned in order to reach the target 5.7 GW by 2026.

Clean Energy is Essential to More than Just Climate Action
The Ongoing Prodigious Growth of Renewables
MENA's Renewable Energy Leadership
The Transition Away from Fossil Fuels to Renewables is Well Underway
Clean Energy from Renewable Sources is the Answer but Government Policies are a Problem
Declining Battery Storage Costs are Helping Renewables
The Dream of 100 Percent Renewable Energy is Alive and Well 

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