Solar energy has become the new oil that does not pollute the environment, and it is strongly present in the countries of the Middle East and the Gulf, despite these countries being at the forefront of the list of global oil and gas exporters.
Relying on clean energy became a top agenda of governments of these countries, with investments playing an important role in developing the sector.
Expectations are that solar will become a key energy support sector in the coming years, following historical reliance on “conventional” energy by the GCC.
Gulf countries shift energy direction
The Gulf states have become a model in response to the global shift towards an energy system in which renewable sources play a central role, especially solar ones.
Governments have developed national plans to convert part of the electricity production through clean energy, to reduce emissions and electricity production costs.
Saudi Arabia plans to generate 50 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2030. It is estimated that the Kingdom’s capacity to operate solar plants will reach 41 gigawatts by 2032.
According to the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation, renewable energy sources will make up 22 percent of the value of all energy projects in Saudi Arabia between 2021 and 2025.
Among the most important projects undertaken by Saudi Arabia in the context of its plan is the Sakaka solar photovoltaic plant in the Al-Jawf region, which contributes to reducing 606,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.
It is one of the renewable energy projects of the Ministry of Energy, which consists of 1.2 million solar panels, built on an area of 6 km2, with a production capacity of 300 megawatts.
UAE’s Energy Strategy 2050 targets a mix of renewable and clean energy sources to ensure a balance between economic needs and environmental goals.
It will invest 600 billion dirhams ($136.5 billion) in this area until 2050.
Dubai is one of the leading cities in developing the renewable and clean energy sector. Its strategy aims to be the lowest carbon city by 2050.
It also aims to provide 75% of the energy production capacity from clean energy sources by the same year.
Abu Dhabi, for its part, is cooperating with some private companies to replace “traditional” electricity generation in industrial and commercial buildings with solar energy.
It has also recently completed providing solar panels for the buildings of Abu Dhabi International Airport with a capacity of 3 megawatts, in addition to the buildings of “Warner Brothers”.
Within the framework of Qatar National Vision 2030 to develop renewable energy sources as part of the diversification of energy sources, the country has done everything necessary to become a leader in this field.
Today, it is considered one of the advanced countries in this sector, as it relies on solar energy in infrastructure projects and public utilities.
The use of this type of energy helped make sports facilities in Qatar environmentally friendly, free from any carbon emissions, with the possibility of controlling the climate at these stadiums.
This is precisely what will happen in the 2022 World Cup, which will be hosted by Doha, as it equipped stadiums, training facilities, and areas designated for fans, with cooling technology using solar energy, to maintain the temperature at an average of 27 degrees.
In Bahrain, the government is seeking to save about 230 million dinars ($610 million), by supplying 20 percent of its electricity consumption using clean energy by 2025.
Among its most prominent projects in this context is the establishment of the Bahrain International Circuit using renewable energy sources, particularly solar.
It also established the first governmental renewable energy plant in the Southern Governorate, with a production capacity of 5 megawatts, and at a cost of 7 million dinars.
The Sultanate seeks to make the most of its wealth from wind and solar energy, and plans to produce 3.50 megawatts of electricity through clean energy by 2025.
This is equivalent to 16 percent of its energy production, and this will rise to 30 percent by 2030.
The demand for electric power in Kuwait is expected to soar to 30,000 megawatts per day in 2030. The government has an ambitious vision to reach 15 percent of these needs from renewable energy. Unfortunately, COVID has delayed some projects in this field.
Apart from the Gulf countries, solar energy projects in the Middle East and Africa, especially in Egypt, are also witnessing a great boom.
The state aims for renewable energy sources to contribute 42 percent of the total capacity of the national electricity grid by 2035, of which 22 percent will come from solar energy.
The country has allocated about 7,650 thousand square kilometers of land to implement renewable energy projects, with capacities of up to 35 gigawatts of wind energy and 55 gigawatts of solar energy.
In this context, the “Benban” solar energy complex becomes Egypt’s most prominent investment in renewable energy, which is included in the list of the largest solar energy complex in the world.