Renewables boom in MENA – study

Renewable energy investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) grew by 40% last year to top $2.9bn, according to new figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), REN21, and the United Arab Emirates.

Arthouros Zervos, chair of REN21, says: “In just the last two years, renewable energy has transformed from a niche interest to a regional phenomenon reaching an almost $3bn investment in 2012 alone.”

The MENA Renewables Status Report shows that with over 100 projects under development, the region could see a 450% increase in non-hydro renewable energy generating capacity over the next few years.

MENA governments have announced that additional renewables capacity is expected to reach 50GW by 2020 and 107GW by 2030, compared to 1.7GW in 2011.

Notably, the report tracks a sea-change in the renewable energy plans of many oil-exporting countries, which now account for over 80% of the region’s 107GW of total announced capacity additions.

“This report demonstrates that the MENA region is rapidly taking a prominent role in accelerating the adoption of renewable energy,” says Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar. He also serves as the UAE’s minister and special envoy for energy and climate change.

Policy deployment and target-setting are now a widespread phenomenon across the region. All 21 MENA countries now have policy targets, up from five in 2007, with at least 19 countries having technology specific targets.

To achieve these targets and attract investment, the report found that 18 MENA countries had enacted at least one renewable energy enabling policy by early 2013, such as feed-in tariffs, metering, fiscal incentives, and public financing.