Mena solar sector 'needs better regulation'
Dubai, March 29, 2011
International firms are gearing to tap opportunities in the Mena solar power sector but the lack of a regulatory framework will hinder growth, industry executives said.
Most countries in the region have relied on their rich oil and gas resources and conventional power to meet energy needs but in the last few years, countries like Morocco, Oman, UAE and Saudi Arabia have initiated renewable energy projects, including solar projects.
'The regional governments need to walk the talk and establish clear rules and regulations for solar power,' said Browning Rockwell, president of the Emirates Solar Industry Assocation (ESIA), an industry body with 70 firms as members including BP Solar, Siemens and Masdar.
'You need incentives such as attractive tariffs, power purchase agreements and more coordination with industry organisations,' he said at a solar energy forum organised by London-based Meed.
Solar projects with capacity of some 500 megawatts (MW) are underway in Morocco and about 100-200 MW in Oman. The UAE has some 12 MW projects completed and a further 250 MW being developed at the Shams 1 and Nour 1 projects.
The UAE plans to generate seven percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. ESIA is also working with the UAE government on producing a white paper on policy recommendations aimed at fuelling the growth of solar power in the country.
Aside from a lack of policy and regulatory framework, the region also lacks grids for transmission of solar or wind power, said Alex Katon, head of strategy for Middle East, International Power-GDF Suez.
'The solar power market is still in the early stages despite being ideally located to develop solar power projects,' he said, adding the MENA region yet has not tariff structure for solar power.-Reuters