PV demand in Africa and Middle East set to triple by 2018 - Solarbuzz

Apr 25, 2014 - Ben Willis -

Demand for solar in Africa and the Middle East is set to triple by 2018. Image: African Solar Designs.

PV demand in the Middle East and Africa is set to grow by 50% this year and more than triple by 2018 as countries such as Saudi Arabia begin serious levels of solar deployment.

According to the latest predictions from market research firm NPD Solarbuzz, annual PV demand in the region is set to grow to 4.4GW by 2018, up from a forecast 1.6GW this year.

The region has already seen significant growth, having gone from 140MW of new capacity added in 2012 to over 1GW in 2013.

This hike was down to the growing significance of on-grid PV in a region that had previously been dominated by small-scale off-grid applications.

This trend is set to continue, with Solarbuzz predicting that by 2018 large-scale ground-mount projects will account for 70% of the region’s total demand.

“Solar PV represents an ideal renewable energy type across much of the Middle East and Africa,” noted Susanne von Aichberger, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Even so, market drivers and constraints differ greatly between the two regions.”

In the Middle East, annual demand is expected to grow to 2.2GW by 2018, with an upside potential of 4GW, Solarbuzz predicted.

Israel will be 2014’s largest market, a consequence of steady growth in net-metered rooftop installations.

But it will soon be overtaken by the region’s giant, Saudi Arabia, which has already announced plans for an ambitious solar programme aimed at maximising the amount of oil it exports to profitable overseas markets.

Solarbuzz said these plans would begin to materialise later this year, with the country forecast to add 2.6GW of new capacity between 2016 and 2018.

In Africa, a growing appetite for power will see PV demand reach 2.2GW a year by 2018, with an upside potential of 6GW, Solarbuzz said.

South Africa will continue to dominate installations in 2014 as build-out of the 1.5GW of PV projects selected under its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers programme continues.

But other countries are showing potential, with proposals for a number of 100MW-plus projects beginning to emerge.

“In the past 12 months, new plans for large PV projects have emerged across Africa, including the sub-Saharan countries of Cameroon, Swaziland, and Uganda,” said von Aichberger. “Announcements of PV projects in the 100MW range have now become common, as a means of expanding power generation capacity quickly.”

For further insight into Africa’s burgeoning PV market, click here