The MENA region could see more than $50 billion worth investments made in its solar power sector by 2020 as regional governments increasingly push for the adoption of clean energy, new research has found.
According to the MENA solar energy report, published jointly by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) and Meed Insights , new solar, wind and hydroelectric projects, which will provide around 37,000MW of energy, are to be commissioned by the end of this decade in the region.
Out of this, around 12,000MW to 15,000MW will be sourced from solar energy projects specifically.
The report also forecasts a significant shift in the contribution of solar power towards the region’s energy mix in the next seven years. 
Saudi Arabia is the largest solar power market in the region  with plans to install 23,900MW of renewable energy by 2020. Morocco, Egypt and Algeria also have ambitious solar power generation targets.
The use of renewable energy is also becoming a viable option for Gulf counties due to diminishing production costs.
“Prior work by MESIA has shown that solar power has become commercially viable in the Mena region due to dramatic reductions in solar equipment costs, a good fit of solar resources with regional power demand patterns, and increasingly limited access to cheap hydrocarbons for power generation,” says Dr Steve Griffiths, research director at MESIA.
“Nonetheless, regional challenges exist for achieving widespread deployment of solar power, including lack of supportive policy frameworks, subsidies for fossil-based power generation, and access to financing.
“The 2014 MENA Solar Power Market Report shows that many countries in the region are now overcoming these challenges and beginning to realise the potential of solar power to play a key role in their future energy systems.”
GCC countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE have set ambitious targets for renewable power production.
The Kingdom plans to spend $109 billion on solar and nuclear power projects by 2032 whilst the UAE aims to spend almost $102 billion on alternative energy, including solar, by 2020.
Apart from establishing renewable projects domestically, the UAE has also been investing in renewable projects in other countries. The country has signed partnerships to deploy wind and solar projects in five Pacific Island countries during the ongoing Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
By Mary Sophia