A report by the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) – the largest solar trade association in the MENA region – shows that 1800 MW worth of solar projects will be tendered or awarded during the next 12 months.
The report, MENA Solar Outlook 2015, factors-in a prevailing project price of $1.5mn/MW, which equates to $2.7bn, which MESIA states “represents a six-fold increase on last year when less than 300 MW of solar projects were awarded ”.
In the report, MESIA forecasts three solar trends emerging this year. The first is that it predicts that 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 second forecast is that projects will get bigger. In 2013, there were only three projects awarded larger than 10 MW – this year MESIA states that number is expected to reach 40. “Each of these projects will be worth at least $60m and several will exceed $100m.”
The third trend relates to micro-solar markets. MESIA states: “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 solar industry trade association says that there are two factors fuelling the sharp rise in solar projects in the MENA region. “First, the price of solar systems has dropped dramatically over the past few years. It means that for the same budget as a 10 MW solar PV power plant in 2008, a plant five times larger can be built today without having to spend a penny more.”
It also states that as solar prices are decreasing, the cost of generating electricity from natural gas is rising, prompting governments to turn to solar as “an economically viable option to generate electricity”.