As the urbanization process in the Middle East accelerates and the population size expands, the pressure to reduce emissions continues to increase. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other regional countries have introduced and updated renewable energy development goals, striving to reduce dependence on traditional energy sources, accelerating energy transition, and promoting economic diversification and sustainable development.
According to the International Energy Agency report, according to the current plan announced by the Middle East countries, by 2030, the total power generation capacity of renewable energy (non-hydroelectric power generation) in the Middle East will exceed 192 GW, which is 17 times the current level, of which solar power will account for The proportion will account for more than 42%, and wind energy will account for about 35%. Analysis believes that the vigorous development of the renewable energy industry in the Middle East will help regional countries to promote green development, reduce carbon emissions, and lay a good foundation for the sustainable development of the regional economy.
Many countries push for the construction of renewable energy projects
In recent years, countries in the Middle East have made full use of their natural endowments to actively develop green energy projects and increase the proportion of renewable energy power generation.
Egypt is located on the eastern edge of the Sahara Desert and has plenty of sunshine throughout the year. The Aswan Benban Photovoltaic Industrial Park project in southern Egypt covers an area of 37 square kilometers and is one of the largest photovoltaic industrial parks in the world. In 2019, when the park was completed and put into operation, the total amount of electricity generated by the use of solar energy in Egypt reached 2.4 billion kWh, effectively alleviating the local electricity shortage. The project was therefore printed on a commemorative coin issued by Egypt and became a “national card”. Egyptian scholar Mustafa said that five years ago, Egypt often used power cuts. Now as solar projects are launched, this problem has been greatly eased.
In January last year, the Saudi Ministry of Energy launched the third round of tenders for the National Renewable Energy Plan. This round of tenders includes 4 solar power projects with a total power generation capacity of 1.2 GW. In January of this year, the UAE Global Aluminum Industry and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority announced a landmark move. The UAE became the first country in the world to use solar energy to produce aluminum, and was the first to achieve technological breakthroughs in the application of renewable energy. Since the construction of the first solar power station in 2011, Algeria has 22 solar power stations in operation.
The report released by the Global Wind Energy Council in 2020 shows that wind energy will become a sustainable and efficient energy source in the Middle East, creating jobs and promoting local economic growth. Countries with rich wind resources such as Morocco and Jordan regard wind power as an important development direction. Morocco’s total installed wind power capacity in 2019 ranked third in Africa; Jordan currently has 5 wind power stations located in Ibrahia, Hefa, Ma’an and Tafel; Egypt is in the Zaafran region on the west bank of the Gulf of Suez Several wind power plants have been built.
Related industry support policies continue to be introduced
The economic structure of the Middle East countries is generally relatively single, and their economic conditions are easily affected by factors such as geopolitics and international oil prices. In order to reduce dependence on traditional energy, many countries in the region have successively formulated renewable energy development goals to accelerate the pace of energy transition.
Egypt plans to increase the proportion of clean energy power generation in total power generation to 20% by 2022, and 40% by 2035. The Egyptian government has continued to improve its management and supervision mechanisms, set feed-in subsidy tariffs for photovoltaic power generation, and encouraged powerful international companies to participate in the renewable energy power market.
Many countries in the region regard energy transition as a major strategy to accelerate economic diversification. In April 2016, Saudi Arabia issued the “Vision 2030” with the goal of achieving an installed capacity of 60 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and increasing the proportion of renewable energy power generation to 50%. The Saudi government also plans to invest 50 billion US dollars in renewable energy projects by 2023. Related measures include supporting local developers and relaxing restrictions on local solar panel manufacturers. The Saudi Industrial Development Foundation has also launched a renewable energy financing plan.
Morocco plans to achieve 50% of its electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100% of its electricity demand by 2050. According to 2019 data, renewable energy accounts for approximately 35% of the country’s electricity demand. As of the end of 2019, Morocco’s solar installed capacity was 736 MW, and the entire renewable energy production capacity was 3264 MW.
In 2017, the UAE issued the “2050 Energy Strategy”. The goal is that by 2050, 44% of the UAE’s energy structure will be renewable energy, 38% will be natural gas, 12% will be clean fossil energy, and 6% will be nuclear energy. The total investment is expected to reach 600 billion. Dirhams (1 U.S. dollar equals 3.67 Dirhams). The strategy predicts that the UAE’s energy demand will increase by 6% annually in the next 30 years, and the proportion of clean energy in the energy structure will increase from the current 25% to 50%. The carbon emissions of power generation will be reduced by 70% and the overall energy use efficiency will increase by 40%. The UAE has saved about AED 700 billion.
In addition, Oman plans to achieve 10% of renewable energy power generation by 2025. Kuwait plans to achieve a 15% renewable energy application ratio by 2030.
China and the Middle East have broad prospects for new energy cooperation
“Whether it is wind power or photovoltaic power generation, China has the world’s leading technology and large-scale power transmission network. The Middle East countries and China have broad prospects for cooperation in the field of renewable energy.” Egyptian Deputy Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Moussa said .
“The Middle East will usher in a period of rapid development of solar power and wind power in the future. The world’s leading renewable energy technologies, including China, will be promoted and applied in the Middle East.” said James Kidd, a renewable energy research expert in the Middle East.
Under the framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, cooperation between China and many countries in the Middle East in the field of renewable energy has achieved fruitful results. In August 2015, China and Egypt signed a contract to prepare for the National Joint Laboratory of Renewable Energy, which greatly promoted in-depth cooperation in the field of renewable energy. In August 2018, Zhejiang Chint and TBEA participated in the construction of the 165.5 MW and 186 MW projects of the Benban Photovoltaic Industrial Park in Egypt.
The Middle East media pointed out that China has become an important force in the field of renewable energy in the Middle East. Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have all adopted energy diversification as a major economic growth strategy, and there will continue to be huge demands for financing, design, procurement, construction, and development in related fields. Some energy development projects that China participates in are becoming part of the “North Africa Power Corridor” under the framework of the “Belt and Road” initiative, which will benefit Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Sudan.
Yang Kai, President of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Egypt International, analyzed that due to the continued decline in the cost of renewable energy power generation in the Middle East, and at the same time, many countries have provided strong policy support for the development of renewable energy power. In the future, China and Middle Eastern countries can use solar energy, Further in-depth cooperation in wind energy, power storage technology, hydrogen energy and other fields.
Mohamed Moussa said that he expects China’s “smart photovoltaic” and other advanced technologies to help the Middle East break through the bottleneck of renewable energy development. “We regard China as an important partner, and the cooperation between the two sides in this field will achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.” .