By Andy Sambidge
New study says 1,800MW worth of solar projects will be tendered or awarded during the next 12 months
Solar projects worth $2.7 billion are set to be unveiled in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2015, according to a new study by the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA).
The study showed that 1,800MW worth of solar projects will be tendered or awarded during the next 12 months.
Factoring in the prevailing project price of $1.5 million/MW, this equates to $2.7 billion. The figure represents a six-fold increase on last year when less than 300MW of solar projects were awarded. To put it in perspective, a 100MW solar PV power plant is capable of powering roughly 200,000 homes.
MESIA's report also said solar will become more pan-regional. In the past the solar debate has been focused on only one or two countries. This year the industry will see solar projects take off in 11 different countries across MENA, from Morocco to Saudi Arabia, the report said.
It added that in 2013, there were only three projects awarded larger than 10MW while this year, that number is expected to reach 40. Each of these projects will be worth at least $60 million and several will exceed $100 million.
MESIA also said as the solar market grows, the region will see niche segments emerging. One example is the rooftop sector. With Dubai having recently launched a landmark solar rooftop programme, the MENA region will see for the first time an entire industry emerge focused on building solar PV systems on rooftops.
"The cost of large scale solar PV is similar to the cost of generating power with oil at $20/barrel," said Vahid Fotuhi, president of MESIA and director of origination at Access Power MEA.
"As long as oil remains above $20/barrel it is more economically attractive to use solar for electricity generation and keep oil for more valuable purposes such as transport fuels," Fotuhi added.
MESIA is the largest solar trade association in the MENA region. The association represents over 120 organisations including investors, installers, manufacturers, law firms, consultancies and banks and is headquartered in Dubai.For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.