How Much Are MENA Countries Investing in Solar Energy and Why?

Published July 6th, 2020 - 02:00 GMT
How Much Are MENA Countries Investing in Solar Energy and Why?
The UAE has pledged $160 billion in investment opportunities over the next 30 years. (Shutterstock)

Besides being so rich in oil as a primary source for energy, the Middle East and North Africa have a great potential for renewable energy, especially solar one.

Thanks to sunny weather all year long, especially in the Arabian Peninsula and the Sahara desert, the MENA region has been one of the strongest candidates for building sustainable and green energy. A shift which will not only help boost the region's economic growth but will also end the region's dependence on the troubled oil industry.

As the cost of setting up solar systems continue to decline, being 82% cheaper than it was only 10 years ago, more and more countries are starting to realize the significance of low-carbon energy that will help the environment just as much as it will help reduce energy costs in the long-run.

According to the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), governments in the region will be investing at least $15 billion over the span of five years, setting up solar energy projects.

Last September, Saudi Arabia called on contractors to submit their applications so they help in developing two major solar energy farms worth $320 million.

In its efforts to diversify its economic activity, the UAE has pledged $160 billion in green energy investment opportunities over the next 30 years. 

In May 2020, the UAE's efforts to reduce CO₂ emissions by more than 3.6 million metric tons per year included inaugurating Abu Dhabi Power Corporation's project. The project aims to build the world's cheapest solar energy farm in Al Dhafra Solar PV project by mid-2022.

Similarly, Oman has just opened its first utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) scheme at the Amin solar farm with 336,000 solar panels last May.

Despite being an OPEC member with 12.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Algeria has for years now been focusing on building and developing solar farms to produce electric power for both domestic consumption and international sales.

Last month, the Minister of Energy announced plans to invest more than $3.2 billion in solar photovoltaic plants, as part of the government's plan to develop 22GW of clean energy by 2030.

In November 2016, Tunisia launched its Renewable Energy Action Plan 2030, aspiring to improve energy intensity by 3% each year and to eventually save 17% on its energy intake by the year 2030. The plan also aims to help the country produce 30% of its electric needs using renewable energy.

This week, Tunisia opened its first solar energy station called "Chams Enfidha" with a cost of nearly $1.16 million.

Arab sun-rich countries are increasingly more aware of the urgent need to switch to renewable energy, not only because of its hugely positive impact on the environment, but also its economic efficiency in producing electricity and exporting it to other colder regions.

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