The Middle East and North Africa will be one of the keenly watched emerging solar power markets this year, as a large number of tenders representing huge capacities are expected to be launched by several countries there.
According to a report released by the Middle East Solar Industry Association last month, the solar power pipeline in the MENA region is expected to swell to almost 6.9 GW. Over 2.8 GW of solar power capacity has already been allocated to project developers, while countries in the region are expected to float tenders for an additional 4.0 GW of capacity this year.
Algeria currently leads a group of 7 countries mentioned in the report in terms of installed capacity. The north African country has 270 MW of operational capacity. An additional 80 MW capacity is under construction while 2 GW tender will be floated this year; this will be the largest tender in the region.
Morocco has 160 MW operational capacity, with 350 MW under construction, and will offer 245 MW capacity to prospective developers this year. The country recently declared operational a 160 MW concentrated solar power project at the Ouarzazate complex. Two projects – a 200 MW parabolic trough reflector and a 150 MW power tower – are under construction at the same complex. Some large-scale solar photovoltaic power projects are expected to be up for auction this year.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has an operational capacity of 128 MW, mostly from the Shams parabolic trough reflector project. Work is underway for the 200 MW phase II of the landmark Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park led by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power. Tender for an 800 MW phase III of the solar power park has already been floated and winner will be announced soon. Abu Dhabi will also launch a tender for 350 MW solar power capacity.
Another important market will be Jordan, which has seen a steep fall in solar power tariffs in recent auctions. The country has 30 MW of operational capacity, with 320 MW under construction, and will launch a tender for 120 MW capacity this year. The second solar power auction organized in Jordan last year attracted 33 companies bidding for 200 MW capacity. The lowest bid was placed at US¢6.13/kWh, slightly over the lowest-ever tariff bid of ACWA Power for the phase II auction of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
Egypt promises to be the dark horse in the solar power race in the MENA region. It has 70 MW installed capacity and 1.8 GW under construction and plans to launch 250 MW solar power tender this year. As many as 39 project developers will be working on a 1.8 GW solar power park in Aswan. Enel Green, EDF, and Lekela Power are among the project developers. Several other companies, like ACWA Power, the Masdar Group, Scatec Solar, and SkyPower has signed agreements with the Egyptian government to set up large-scale solar power projects in the country.
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