Solar PV Demand Rises Sixfold in the Middle East and Africa

Arab men, PV, Masdar, UAE, Middle East, Africa, solar power, photovoltaics, clean tech, renewable energy, HH General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (left), HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan National Security Advisor for the UAE and Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council visit Masdar City’s 10 MW PV plant in 2011.

Proponents of environmental reform (renewable energy, greener economy) are racing against the forces of environmental destruction (fossil fuel industry, global warming), while the rest of us wait to see which will reach the finish line first.

In the Middle East and Africa (MEA), fossil fuels are way ahead. Many countries, South Africa in particular, rely too much on coal, while others like Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi have played a crucial role in our oil addiction. But there may be hope. Leading analysts for the photovoltaic industry, NPD Solarbuzz recently reported that PV demand in the MEA has soared in the last year with an astounding 625 percent increase.  

Solarbuzz outlines how the PV industry is taking off in the Middle East and Africa in their annual Middle East and Africa PV Market Report. This year they have zeroed in on three countries that are taking the largest strides, all of which we found surprising.

Whereas MEA only accounted for 0.5 percent of the world’s PV demand in 2012, according to PV Magazine, by 2017, the region’s share of global PV solar generation is expected to climb to six percent.

South Africa is finally getting serious about renewables, after burning cheap and dirty coal for decades, with plans to install 1.45GW under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program (REIPPP) by the end of 2014.

Despite a longstanding obsession with fossil fuels, Israel follows close behind, which makes sense given that the country has spawned many of the solar energy technologies deployed internationally (read about BrightSource Energy for a perfect example.)

Back home, Germany’s M&W Group has recently won a contract to build a 55MW PV plant 100 km south of Tel Aviv, and new solar-friendly legislation is expected to speed up development of others.

Located near Moshav Ohad, the plant will be constructed on 1,000,000 square meters of land, and a horizontal tracking system that follows the sun across the sky will boost the efficiency of its 180,000 crystalline PV modules by 25 percent, according to Tenders Info.

Together South Africa and Israel will make up 80 percent of the region’s PV demand this year, but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is shifting their energy mix such that it will be the region’s largest producer of solar energy by 2017.

Now if we could just get them to stop with the fossil fuels already.

Image by Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court – Abu Dhabi via Masdar’s Facebook page

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