The Case for Solar Energy in the Middle East & North Africa

Apr 17, 2012

Last month, during the same week President Obama was on a multi-state tour to promote energy efficiency, the U.S. Chamber was leading a business delegation to Morocco comprised of U.S. solar energy, energy efficiency, and security companies.

The March 20-22 mission is yet another example of increased corporate interest in solar energy and how, as governments seek to lower energy costs and take advantage of the expansive sun-soaked desert, the sector is witnessing rapid growth across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  In MENA countries, the World Bank estimates 1.2 gigawatts of solar energy is currently in the pipeline, most notably for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.  Bloomberg estimates that solar energy is the fastest growing sector in renewables, with Photovoltaic installations growing 140% in 2010.

While Europe is pioneering the regulatory and policy framework for clean energy development in the MENA region, opportunities for American companies abound within each market.  Seizing the opportunity, the World Bank has made financing available to help develop the industry in Morocco.  Similar World Bank financing has been made available in Egypt and Algeria.

The opportunity for solar in the MENA region is not a closely held secret.  The world has become increasingly engaged as it has discovered just how promising the sector is.  Already there are large and small solar projects underway.  German-led Desertec, a consortium of European companies, has promoted the creation of electricity through the use of concentrating solar power systems, photovoltaic systems, and wind farms in North Africa and the Middle East.  Together, these assets would produce a super grid that would generate an enormous amount of power.  Desertec also launched a 500 megawatt solar power project in Morocco at an estimated cost of $2 billion and will export energy to Europe with construction beginning in 2012.  Other companies actively pursuing deals in the region include Algerian company Sonelgaz, Egypt’s Green Prophet, and Tunisia’s STEG Renewable Energies.

Now is the time to become engaged.  American solar companies can’t afford to miss this opportunity.

To learn more about the Chamber-led delegation to Morocco, please visit: http://www.uschamber.com/international/mideast

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