The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is set to see massive growth in solar photovoltaic (PV) demand in the coming years, according to recent findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Emerging PV Markets Report: Middle East and Africa.
Year-on-year growth in the market in 2014 is expected to be as high as 50%. And, between the years of 2014 and 2018, annual PV demand is expected to essentially triple — as the region becomes one of the key markets in the world. By 2018, PV demand in the MEA region is predicted to hit 4.4 GW a year, at least.
In 2013, PV demand in the region grew by a very notable 670%. Before 2013, much of the capacity in the region was from small-scale off-grid PV systems, but in 2013 that began to change — with growing on-grid capacity being the driving factor behind the surge to 1 GW. It’s predicted that by 2018 ground-mount systems will represent more than 70% of the market.
Much of the growth in the region has been, until now, driven by just a few economically prosperous countries — South Africa, Israel, etc. When taken together with Saudi Arabia, these countries are “expected to offer stable demand levels within the MEA region over the next few years.” However, the growth is expected to be much more widespread in the coming years.
“Solar PV represents an ideal renewable energy type across much of the Middle East and Africa,” explained Susanne von Aichberger, an analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “Even so, market drivers and constraints differ greatly between the two regions.”
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In most of the Middle East, renewable energy is seen as a means of preserving domestic oil and gas reserves. Middle East PV demand is forecast to reach 2.2 GW in 2018, with an upside potential of 4 GW. Israel is projected to be the largest PV market in the Middle East in 2014, mainly through solar parks and rooftop systems, based on net-metering.
Saudi Arabia’s ambitious renewables program will finally start to materialize this year, making it the largest PV market in the MEA region by 2016. Saudi Arabia is forecast to add 2.4 GW of new PV capacity between 2016 and 2018. Other key solar PV markets in the Middle East include the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Kuwait.
With a severe shortage of electricity within Africa, in general, and large parts of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa having no access to electricity, solar PV is considered suitable for helping to stimulate social and economic development in the region. PV demand from Africa is forecast to reach 2.2 GW by 2018, with an upside potential of 6 GW.
As far as 2014, PV demand in Africa will remain dominated by South Africa– largely because of the construction of several large PV projects via the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program.
“In the past 12 months, new plans for large PV projects have emerged across Africa, including the sub-Saharan countries of Cameroon, Swaziland, and Uganda,” stated von Aichberger. “Announcements of PV projects in the 100 MW range have now become common, as a means of expanding power generation capacity quickly.”
We’ve covered some of these projects already, including one company’s plan to develop 600 MW of new solar PV capacity in Ghana in the next few years, another company’s plan to build 400 MW worth of solar in Ghana, and a plan to build 3,000 MW worth of solar in Nigeria.
On a more general level, the government of Kenya has recently been setting its eyes on renewable energy as a whole. Not surprising when you consider the fact that a recent joint study from the UN Environment Programme and the Government of Kenya found that the country could benefit to the tune of $45 billion by 2030 from such a switch.