Arab countries plan 73 GW of utility-scale wind, solar projects

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the UAE. Photo by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

June 29 (Renewables Now) - Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa are planning 73.4 GW of utility-scale wind and solar projects which corresponds to a more than five-fold increase in current capacity and marks a serious shift away from oil and gas, a report by US-based NGO Global Energy Monitor shows.

The countries in the region, which include some of the world's leading oil producers, predominantly bet on solar energy with over 49.5 GW of prospective utility-scale solar projects forecast to go into operation by the end of the current decade. Wind energy schemes will add more than 11.3 GW of capacity by 2030, while a 12.5-GW solar project in Oman is planned to go online by 2038.

With over 39.7 GW of combined prospective solar and wind energy projects, Oman, Morocco and Algeria are emerging as hotspots on MENA's green energy map, accounting for more than half of the region's planned solar and wind additions.

Oman leads the list of Arab countries shifting away from fossil fuels to green energy. The sultanate has 15.3 GW of solar projects announced, in development, or in construction, which by far exceeds the 0.3 GW of prospective gas-fired power plants and 0.04 GW of projects for electricity from oil in the country.

Second ranks Morocco with 14.4 GW of utility-scale solar and wind projects planned for the next five years. This corresponds to six times the gas capacity the North African is planning to deploy.

The top three Arab countries in terms of solar and wind capacity in operation are Egypt with 3.5 GW, the UAE with 2.6 GW and Morocco with 1.9 GW.

The table below gives details about the operating and prospective wind and solar capacity in some Arab countries.

Capacity in MW Wind operating capacity Wind prospective capacity Solar operating capacity Solar prospective capacity
Oman 50 0 130 15,300
Morocco 1,165 963 702 13,430
Algeria 10 5,030 434 4,982
Kuwait 10 132 20 9,500
Iraq 0 0 0 5,755
Saudi Arabia 400 500 376 4,590
UAE 0 30 2,600 3,970
Egypt 1,641 2,350 1,882 904

In its report, the Global Energy Monitor notes that the size of both solar and wind projects in the region is considerably bigger than in the rest of the world. The average size of prospective solar parks in the region is about four times bigger than in the rest of the world, and the average wind phase farm size is more than one and a half times that of the rest of the world, the NGO said.

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