Saudi Arabia, UAE lead race to deploy solar projects
Sep 3, 2013 - Dubai: ARAB NEWS
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have emerged as the biggest markets among GCC states for the deployment of solar power, accounting for most of the projects. The six GCC countries altogether have sanctioned solar power installation projects worth approximately $155 billion, which will generate more than 84 GW of power when complete in 2017.
The Gulf countries will be addressing some of the main challenges related to the deployment of energy projects in desert terrain, at a high-level industry summit, called Gulf Sol 2013, taking place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre from Sept. 3 to 5. The event will feature government and private sector companies discussing ways of effective deployment of solar projects while also showcasing some of the latest international technologies.
At a press conference in Dubai on Monday, Derek Burston, director of the UK-based Bowmedia, organizer of Gulf Sol 2013, summarized the growth of the GCC photo-voltaic market as “phenomenal.” Over the years, solar power has been acknowledged as the most promising source of renewable energy and GCC governments have demonstrated their keenness to shift from traditional energy sources to these low-cost and abundant alternatives,” he said.
“Direct radiation in many Middle East countries exceeds 6 kWh per square meter per day, making for excellent solar potential. In addition, recent decreases in the costs of solar technologies coupled with rising electricity demand in these growing nations, if coupled with the right policies, could make the region a hub for solar expansion,” Burston added.
The Emirates Solar Industries Association (ESIA) estimates that the key MENA markets to adopt solar power will be Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Kuwait as well as Morocco. All of these countries have potent economic reasons for adopting solar technologies, and none of these nations have been directly affected by recent unrest.
Marc Norman, director of Emirates Solar Industries Association, said: “The economics of switching to solar energy in the Middle East is ever more compelling. With oil prices increasing, and solar technology costs plummeting, it is time for governments in the Middle East to turn talk into action.”
Gulf Sol 2013 assumes added significance given that Abu Dhabi has set a goal of generating 7 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and the state-owned renewable energy company, Masdar, has announced that it will invest up to AED6 billion in alternative energy schemes alongside the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB). Masdar is currently evaluating solar thermal technology at its Masdar City project and has installed a field of TVP solar thermal panels as a pilot project.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, hopes to double its installed electricity capacity by building 54 GW of renewable energy (as well as 17.6 GW of nuclear power) by 2032, of which 41 GW will obtained from the sun. Riyadh in Saudi Arabia currently boasts the world's largest solar thermal plant at 36,300 square meters, with commissioning announced in April 2012. The plant provides hot water for an estimated 40,000 students at Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University for Women.
Another major project in the region is Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which aims for 1 GW of PV and CSP generation by 2030. The $3.2 billion, 48 square kilometer park is the personal project of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
Top agenda at the Gulf Sol 2013 summit includes discussions on feasibility of solar power projects in remote areas, the wide range of unrealized opportunities in the region for international companies and enforceable regulatory and policy frameworks for implementation of solar projects. The event is expected to be attended by more than 5,000 participants from the region and around the world and will be accompanied by interactive workshops by industry leaders.
Gulf Sol 2013 will also be highlighting the importance of another industry — the glass sector — which has benefited due to the high demand for solar panels. Gulf Sol 2013 will be held alongside the 5th edition of the popular Gulf Glass 2013 exhibition, the only specialized regional event dealing with the region’s thriving glass industry.
The twin exhibitions will allow the region’s construction and utilities sectors a unique perspective in implementing cost-effective clean energy initiatives in their construction and power projects.
Visitors to the event will be able to meet the world’s leading companies to look at and discuss the latest technologies, products and services. In addition, Gulf Glass and Gulf Sol have a free to attend knowledge transfer program (Show TV) a unique forum in which visitors, exhibitors and industry leaders can discuss the glass and solar market in the region.
Some of the top names who have confirmed their participation in the event include 3M, Hyundai, 33 Green Technologies, Apex Power Concepts, Conergy, Hensel Electric Private Ltd., Kingspan, Kipp & Zonen, Robotina Group, LDK Solar Hi-Tech, Millennium Energy Industries, Premier Solar Technologies, Rentech, Spire Solar, Ruth & Rau and Green Lighting.