MENA region looks to exceed over $800 billion in investments into its energy sector over the next five years. The outlook forecasts MENA emerging as a major blue and green hydrogen-exporting region thanks to low-cost gas resources and strong renewable energy progress.
Renewables claim a significant share of almost 40% the estimated $250 billion in power sector investments, committed gas investments projected to fall by $9.5 billion to $75 billion after completion of several mega projects in 2020.
As a whole, the MENA region expects to add an estimated 3GW of solar power in 2021 – doubling its total from 2020 – and almost 20GW by 2025. Wind and other sources such as hydropower are also coming into their own as countries step up their energy diversification plans.
Jordan, for example, managed to increase the percentage of power generated from renewables from just 1% in 2012 to around 20%. Morocco’s 4GW of renewables (wind, solar and hydro) constitute around 37% the country’s total generation mix and almost 90% of its current 3.5GW project pipeline. Egypt’s total installed renewables capacity amounts to around 2.3GW, including 1GW of solar PV and 1.3GW of onshore wind.
In the UAE, renewables constituted around 6% of total installed capacity and 3% of power generated as of 2020. Although it may just miss its short-term targets, the UAE’s solar capacity is projected to grow the fastest in the region with nearly 5 GW of solar projects in the pipeline.
In Saudi Arabia, only 330MW of utility-scale solar PV projects and just one 2.5MW wind demonstration project developed jointly by Saudi Aramco and General Electric were operational as of 2020. Even when combined with the tenders under its National Renewable Energy Program, the total renewables capacity of the Kingdom totals 3.3GW, around 24GW short of its stated target of 27.3GW by 2024.
Despite ongoing procurement of large scale utility projects, Oman is also far from achieving its short-term target of generating 10% of its power from renewables by 2025, with a single 105MW utility solar PV project and a 50MW onshore wind project commissioned over the past two years.
As for Iraq, the first solar bid round for projects totalling 755MW capacity was announced in May 2019 and bids of short-listed companies were disclosed in September the following year. Overall, the country aims to reach 10GW of solar power generation capacity by 2030 and generate 20% of its power from solar.