What is the Future of MENA Solar With the Region in Chaos?

There are more reasons than ever to attend MENASOL 2011, with the current unrest raising questions

One particular – and now very topical – public presentation at MENASOL should prove very popular, this year. A group of over 22 government officials representing Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African nations has been convened to provide some clarity in a round-table discussion on what the future will bring for renewable energy – now that dictators are toppling.

A survey of key solar players by CSP Today found that the biggest uncertainty for solar development in the Middle East comes from the current unrest.

Abengoa, First Solar, Isofoton, BrightSource, Soitec, Kaneka, and Aciona were some of the big players in the solar industry surveyed. They have a real stake in the future of solar in the MENA region, and will be discussing the potential of CSP and PV at MENASOL 2011, which will be held in early May this year in Morocco.

Of the 400 solar industry players surveyed, few saw plentiful oil and gas as the biggest problem; just 10%. Regulatory difficulties were also seen as a relatively minor barrier at 24.2%, about the same as lack of financial support, at 26.8%.

By contrast, almost 40% cited the current unrest as the biggest impediment to solar development.

Never mind that the riots are for a good reason, and that renewable energy and sustainable development will solve or help mitigate many of the problems that caused the current mess. (How Food Insecurity Fuels Anger in the Middle East)

Climate change is already starting to decimate crops in the region. But it can be slowed if we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions even just 2% a year, every year, by switching to renewable energy. The adoption of solar power, (plus the electric vehicles to run on that clean energy), can reduce the use fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide that causes climate change.

Egypt in particular, had been widely considered the most promising nation in the Middle East for investment in renewable energy development. For now, there is uncertainty about the future of solar projects that had been begun under the now deposed Mubarak regime.

Finding out what the plans for future solar development are, and how much strength these young growing democracies will have to implement solar in such a rapidly changing region is of great interest, and is currently a mystery.

The solar survey also uncovered optimism for the future of CSP in MENA, with 62% of the solar players queried seeing it becoming the dominant technology for Africa, and about half believing the same for the Middle East itself.

::MENASOL 2011

The sorts of questions that need to be answered at MENASOL include the future of solar under rapidly changing governments – and:

How To Handle the Record High Summer Temperatures
What Egyptian Regime Change May Mean for Regional Energy Cooperation
Solar Energy From Sahara Desert Could Power Europe – But At What Cost?

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