Solar Energy in Saudi Arabia: Perspectives

Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of global oil industry, has been showing keen interest in solar energy in recent years. Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest solar irradiation in the world, estimated at approximately 2,200 thermal kWh of solar radiation per m2. The country is strategically located near the Sun Belt, in addition to plentiful availability of empty stretches of desert that may accommodate infrastructure for solar power projects.

Vast deposits of sand can be used in the manufacture of silicon PV cells which makes Saudi Arabia an attractive location for solar industry. “The resource is stunning; land is abundantly available; the transmission grid system is relatively new, highly resilient and capable of accommodating intermittent loads; and the creditworthiness of KSA is unbeatable as demonstrated by response to the nation's first ever international bond offering”, explains Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, one of the world’s leading solar developers.

Another important driver for solar energy deployment in Saudi Arabia is astonishingly high per capita primary energy consumption, four times higher than the global average. The total energy consumption in the Kingdom is rapidly rising at a rapid rate of 6 percent per annum which also presents a strong case for diversification of energy sources.

Slow Progress Yet Ambitious Goals

Despite its tremendous potential, solar energy sector in Saudi Arabia is still in early stages. “Saudi Arabia is yet to turn its huge solar potential into reality”, says Makio Yamada, Research Fellow at King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (Riyadh). In 2012, the government unveiled plans to invest more than $100 billion in clean energy projects till 2030 in order to generate 41GW, a third of its power requirements, from renewable resources, primarily solar energy.

However, the government drastically scaled back the program in January 2015 and set a more realistic renewables target 14% of current generating capacity (9.5GW) by 2030.  “The installed solar capacity is less than a fifth of that in the UAE which can be attributed to institutional fragmentation and lack of effective collaboration between relevant state and semi-state organizations”, adds Yamada.

The newly launched Vision 2030 document puts forward a strong regulatory and investment framework to develop Saudi solar energy sector, financed in part by $2 trillion sovereign fund. “Vision 2030 highlights renewable energy as a strategic priority for Saudi Arabian economy which would help in economic diversification away from oil revenues, increasing energy security, diversify energy mix, free up oil for export, enhance regulatory framework, and support development of renewable energy industry, thus paving the way for a low-carbon economy in the Kingdom”, say Eaman Abdullah Aman, a Saudi energy expert and writer.

Infact, Saudi Arabia’s long-term goal is to become the leading exporter of solar energy in Middle East and Vision 2030 is expected to play a key role in realizing this objective. “What makes Vision 2030 and King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative different from previous programs is that they represent the highest level commitment to renewable energy ever seen from the Kingdom”, emphasizes Nada.

Under the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative, the government will review the legal and regulatory framework for private-sector investment in order to encourage public-private partnerships and promote local manufacture. “The new targets and strategy outlined in Vision 2030 and National Transformation Plan is very much in sync with fuel mix trends around the world”, observes Padmanathan.

Winds of Change

The first renewable energy initiative from the Saudi government was the establishment of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) in 2010, which is the official agency in-charge of promoting clean energy in the Kingdom. One of its major achievements has been the establishment of 3.5MW PV project at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center. 

Saudi Arabia’s long-term goal is to become a leading exporter of solar energy

Saudi Arabia’s first competitive global tender for utility-scale solar power projects was recently launched – two 50 MW solar power plants at Al-Jouf and Rafha. Though current installed solar capacity in the country is a measly 25MW, world’s leading solar energy companies are already active in the local market, mainly due to the promise and potential of Saudi solar sector. “We already have two pilot projects in place: the first is solar-powered irrigation project at Al-Jouf while the other one is a carport solar power plant for the Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Company (SADAFCO) in Riyadh”, informs Ahmed Nada, Vice President and Region Executive – Middle East at First Solar.

In addition to solar PV, concentrated solar power (CSP) is an interesting option for Saudi Arabia due to its strong dependence on desalination plants to meet its water requirement. Waste heat of a CSP plant can be used to power seawater desalination projects. In 2015, Saudi Electric Company selected CSP to produce electricity with 550MW Duba 1 project, an integrated Solar Combined Cycle Power Plant located near Tuba. The plant, still in tendering phase, is designed to integrate a parabolic trough unit of around 20 to 30MW. 

Outlook for the Future

Due to its regional dominance, Saudi Arabia can play a vital role in the proliferation of solar energy in the entire Middle East. “The Kingdom needs to urgently move forward with its renewable energy plans and start the production of solar energy on a large-scale”, says Padmanathan. “The current focus is on increasing levels of efficiency, reducing subsidy and slashing government expenditure and on doing things that truly add value”, he adds.

“Vision 2030 target suggests that the country will grow its renewable energy capacity in increments, taking advantage of future cost declines and efficiency improvements, while also leaving the door open for emerging technologies”, says Nada. Under the new leadership of King Salman, the country is making a concerted effort to develop its renewable energy sector. “The reorganization of stakeholders and decision makers on energy policy and renewables, under one umbrella, should accelerate KSA’s renewable energy program”, observes Nada. The government restructuring in May 2016 placed necessary administrative functions under the newly-created super-ministry, the Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources which will eventually pave the way for implementation of solar projects.

However, there are several critical areas which Saudi Arabia should tackle for a smooth transition to renewables-focused energy mix. “Saudi Arabia should take a consultative approach on its renewable energy policy framework by leaning on capable, credible industry partners to share their expertise which will help the country avoid the steep learning curve that other markets have faced”, explains Nada. Lenders and financiers are an integral part of any industry, and they should be properly informed about green financing. “It will be particularly important for banks and lenders based in the Kingdom to better understand the solar energy industry, ensuring that they’re comfortable with providing competitive financing for the program”, stresses Nada.

It is also essential to adapt solar energy systems to meet specific energy-intensive applications. “Saudi Arabia could provide long-term solar energy targets for certain, energy-intensive industrial sectors such as cement, steel and petrochemicals”, says Nada.

Lastly, a well-trained and performing workforce is crucial for the development of solar market. “Saudi Arabia needs to invest wisely in technical education to overcome the skills mismatch between schools and the labour market and ensure the supply of rightly-trained human resources to the solar industry”, stresses Yamada.

CSP-Powered Desalination Prospects in MENA

Conventional large-scale desalination is cost-prohibitive and energy-intensive, and not viable for poor countries in the MENA region due to increasing costs of fossil fuels. In addition, the environmental impacts of desalination are considered critical on account of GHG emissions from energy consumption and discharge of brine into the sea. The negative effects of desalination can be minimized, to some extent, by using renewable energy to power the plants.

What is Concentrated Solar Power

The core element of Concentrated Solar Power Plant is a field of large mirrors reflecting captured rays of sun to a small receiver element, thus concentrating the solar radiation intensity by several 100 times and generating very high temperature (more than 1000 °C). This resultant heat can be either used directly in a thermal power cycle based on steam turbines, gas turbines or Stirling engines, or stored in molten salt, concrete or phase-change material to be delivered later to the power cycle for night-time operation. CSP plants also have the capability alternative hybrid operation with fossil fuels, allowing them to provide firm power capacity on demand. The capacity of CSP plants can range from 5 MW to several hundred MW.

Three types of solar collectors are utilized for large-scale CSP power generation – Parabolic Trough, Fresnel and Central Receiver Systems. Parabolic trough systems use parabolic mirrors to concentrate solar radiation on linear receivers which moves with the parabolic mirror to track the sun from east to west. In a Fresnel system, the parabolic shape of the trough is split into several smaller, relatively flat mirror segments which are connected at different angles to a rod-bar that moves them simultaneously to track the sun. Central Receiver Systems consists of two-axis tracking mirrors, or heliostats, which reflect direct solar radiation onto a receiver located at the top of a tower.

Theoretically, all CSP systems can be used to generate electricity and heat.  All are suited to be combined with membrane and thermal desalination systems. However, the only commercially available CSP plants today are linear concentrating parabolic trough systems because of lower cost, simple construction, and high efficiency

CSP-Powered Desalination Prospects in MENA

A recent study by International Energy Agency found that the six biggest users of desalination in MENA––Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates––use approximately 10 percent of the primary energy for desalination. Infact, desalination accounted for more than 4 percent of the total electricity generated in the MENA region in 2010. With growing desalination demand, the major impact will be on those countries that currently use only a small proportion of their energy for desalination, such as Jordan and Algeria.

The MENA region has tremendous wind and solar energy potential which can be effectively utilized in desalination processes. Concentrating solar power (CSP) offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants based on thermal or membrane processes. Infact, several countries in the region, such as Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are already developing large CSP solar power projects.

Concentrating solar power offers an attractive option to run industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  Such plants can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants based on thermal or membrane processes. The MENA region has tremendous solar energy potential that can facilitate generation of energy required to offset the alarming freshwater deficit. The virtually unlimited solar irradiance in the region will ensure large-scale deployment of eco-friendly desalination systems, thereby saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

Several countries in the MENA region – Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia – have joined together to expedite the deployment of concentrated solar power (CSP) and exploit the region's vast solar energy resources. One of those projects is a series of massive solar farms spanning the Middle East and North Africa. Two projects under this Desertec umbrella are Morocco’s Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power plant, which was approved in late 2011, and Tunisia’s TuNur Concentrated Solar Power Plant, which was approved in January 2012. The Moroccan plant will have a 500-MW capacity, while the Tunisia plant will have a 2 GW capacity. Jordan is also making rapid strides with several mega CSP projects under development in Maa’n Development Area. 

Conclusions

Seawater desalination powered by concentrated solar power offers an attractive opportunity for MENA countries to ensure affordable, sustainable and secure freshwater supply. The growing water deficit in the MENA region is fuelling regional conflicts, political instability and environmental degradation. It is expected that the energy demand for seawater desalination for urban centres and mega-cities will be met by ensuring mass deployment of CSP-powered systems across the region. Considering the severe consequence of looming water crisis in the MENA region it is responsibility of all regional governments to devise a forward-looking regional water policy to facilitate rapid deployment and expansion of CSP and other clean energy resources for seawater desalination.

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Renewable Energy in GCC: Need for a Holistic Approach

The importance of renewable energy sources in the energy portfolio of any country is well known, especially in the context of energy security and impacts on climate change. The growing quest for renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been seen by many as both – a compulsion to complement the rising energy demand, and as an economic strength that helps them in carrying forward the clean energy initiatives from technology development to large scale deployment of projects from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh.

Current Scenario

The promotion of renewable energy (RE) is becoming an integral part in the policy statements of governments in GCC countries. Particular attention is being paid to the development and deployment of solar energy for various applications. Masdar is a shining example of a government’s commitment towards addressing sustainability issues through education, R&D, investment, and commercialization of RE technologies. It not only has emerged as the hub of renewable energy development and innovation but is also acting as a catalyst for many others to take up this challenge.

With the ongoing developments in the clean energy sphere in the region, the growing appetite for establishing clean energy market and addressing domestic sustainability issues arising out of the spiralling energy demand and subsidized hydrocarbon fuels is clearly visible. Saudi Arabia is also contemplating huge investments to develop its solar industry, which can meet one-third of its electricity demand by the year 2032. Other countries are also trying to reciprocate similar moves. While rationalizing subsidies quickly may be a daunting task for the governments (as for any other country, for that matter, including India as well), efforts are being made by UAE to push RE in the supply mix and create the market.

Accelerating Renewable Energy Growth

However, renewable energy initiatives are almost exclusively government-led projects. There is nothing wrong in capitalizing hydrocarbon revenue for a noble cause but unless strong policies and regulatory frameworks are put in place, the sector may not see viable actions from private players and investors. The present set of such instruments are either still weak or absent, and, therefore, are unable to provide greater comfort to market players. This situation may, in turn, limit the capacity/flexibility to reduce carbon footprints in times to come as government on its own cannot set up projects everywhere, it can only demonstrate and facilitate.

In this backdrop, it is time to soon bring in reforms that would pave way for successful RE deployment in all spheres. Some of the initiatives that need to be introduced or strengthened include:

  • Enabling policies for grid connected RE that should cover interconnection issues between RE power and utilities, incentives, facilitation and clearances for land, water, and environment (wherever relevant); and
  • Regulatory provisions relating to – setting of minimum Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) to be met, principles of tariff determination for different technologies, provisions for trading in RE, plant operation including scheduling (wherever relevant), and evacuation of power.
  • Creation of ancillary market for effectively meeting the grid management challenges arising from intermittent power like that from solar and wind, metering and energy accounting, protection, connectivity code, safety, etc.

For creating demand and establishing a thriving market, concerted efforts are required by all the stakeholders to address various kinds of issues pertaining to policy, technical, regulatory, and institutional mechanisms in the larger perspective. In the absence of a strong framework, even the world’s most visionary and ambitious project Desertec which  envision channeling of solar and wind power to parts of Europe by linking of renewable energy generation sites in MENA region may also face hurdles as one has to deal with pricing, interconnection, grid stability and access issues first. This also necessitates the need for harmonization in approach among all participating countries to the extent possible.

Conclusions

It is difficult to ignore the benefits of renewable energy be it social, economic, environmental, local or global. Policy statements are essential starting steps for accelerating adoption of clean energy sources including smaller size capacity, where there lies a significant potential. In GCC countries with affluent society, the biggest challenge would be to create energy consciousness and encourage smarter use of energy among common people like anywhere else, and the same calls for wider application of behavioural science in addressing a wide range of sustainability issues.

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Renewable Energy Investment in Jordan

Jordan has tremendous wind, solar and biomass energy potential which can only be realized by large-scale investments. In 2007, the Government of Jordan developed an integrated and comprehensive Energy Master Plan. Renewable energy accounted for only 1% of the energy consumption in Jordan in 2007. However, ambitious targets have been set in the Master Plan to raise the share to 7% in 2015 and 10% in 2020. 

This transition from conventional fuels to renewable energy resources will require capital investments, technology transfer and human resources development, through a package of investments estimated at US $ 1.4 – 2.2 billion. The investment package includes Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) deals for wind energy with a total capacity of 660 MW and solar energy plants of 600 MW. This will be paralleled with the reduction of energy produced from oil from 58% currently to 40% in 2020.

As most of the clean energy technologies require high capital cost, investments in wind, solar and waste-to-energy plants will be possible only with appropriate support from the Government. Notably, the Government has expressed its readiness to provide necessary support within the framework of available resources. The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC), is responsible for coordinating and directing developmental efforts in coordination with the public and private sectors, and civil society organizations. MOPIC is actively seeking support for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives through continuous cooperation with international partners and donors.

Jordan has significant strengths in the form of renewable energy resources, a developed electricity grid, strong legal and intellectual property protections, a market-friendly economy and a skilled workforce. So it is well positioned to participate in the expanding cleantech industry. The best prospects for electricity generation in Jordan are as Independent Power Producers (IPPs).  This creates tremendous opportunities for foreign investors interested in investing in electricity generation ventures.

Jordan enacted a Renewable Energy Law in 2010 which provides for legislative framework for the cleantech sector. The main aim of the law is to facilitate domestic and international projects and streamline the investment process.  The Law permits and encourages the exploitation of renewable energy sources at any geographical location in the Kingdom. In April 2012, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources announced that it has qualified 34 international and local companies for investment in renewable energy projects, with an overall capacity reaching 1000 MW. Of the qualified companies, 22 companies will invest in solar power projects and the rest in wind energy.

Keeping in view the renewed interest in renewable energy, there is a huge potential for international technology companies to enter the Jordan market.  There is very good demand for wind energy equipments, solar power units and waste-to-energy systems which can be capitalized by technology providers and investment groups from around the world.

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Solar Energy in Oman: Potential and Progress

Oman-renewable-energySolar energy is a vital and strategic solution for the provision of electric power in the Sultanate of Oman. Given the vast unused land and available solar energy resources, Oman has an excellent potential for solar energy development and deployment. Solar energy is a viable option in Oman and could not only cater to the growing need for energy diversification but also would help in economic diversification.

With a total dependence on fossil fuels and increasing population combined with rapid industrialization in cities such as Duqm, Sohar and Salalah, Oman’s power infrastructure and hydrocarbon reserves pose a challenge on the economic growth. The strategic importance and geographical location of Oman makes it viable to harness renewable energy technologies on both, smaller and larger scales, for further development of its economy. It not only helps in reducing dependence in fossil fuels but also helps in creating a cleaner and sustainable environment.  Research and development and high-technology services related to renewable energy could create new business and employment in Oman and could bring about a paradigm change in diversification of Oman’s economy.

Solar Power Potential in Oman

Oman receives a tremendous amount of solar radiation throughout the year which is among the highest in the world, and there is significant scope for harnessing and developing solar energy resources throughout the Sultanate.  The global average daily sunshine duration and solar radiation values for 25 locations in Oman are tremendous, with Marmul having the highest solar radiation followed by Fahud, Sohar and Qairoon Hairiti. The highest insolation of solar energy is observed is in the desert areas as compared to the coastal areas where it is least.

A Renewables Readiness Assessment report was prepared by IRENA in close collaboration with the Government of Oman, represented by the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW), to study potential usage of renewable energy. The government seeks to utilize a sizeable amount of solar energy to meet the country’s domestic electricity requirements and develop some of it for export. The Petroleum Development of Oman (PDO) has initiated to conserve Oman’s natural gas resources in the production of heavy oil by harnessing solar energy to produce steam for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).

A study commissioned by the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) revealed that Photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on residential buildings in the Sultanate could offer an estimated 1.4 gigawatts of electricity. It is estimated that Muscat Governorate alone could generate a whopping 450 megawatts, similar to a mid-sized gas-based power plant.

Major Developments

The Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman (AER) – Oman’s power sector regulator is taking steps to pave the way for homeowners to install rooftop solar panels with any surplus electricity sent back into the national grid. Some prominent companies, including Majan Electricity Company, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and Sultan Qaboos University have already adopted piloted schemes to generate solar power.

Due to declining costs of photovoltaic (PV) panels, production of solar energy has become an attractive option for the process of water desalination. Solar thermal desalination processes using solar collectors are being tested in pilot projects and expected to soon become available as commercial solutions.

Miraah solar thermal project will harness the sun’s energy to produce steam used in oil production.

Miraah solar thermal project will harness the sun’s energy to produce steam used in oil production.

A combination of concentrated solar power and photovolatic technologies are likely to be deployed for the development in Dakhiliyah Governorate which is one of the largest solar energy projects in Oman's National Energy Strategy 2040 with a plant capacity of 200MW.

Oman has already geared up in attracting private investors to power and water production by offering Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).  The government has embarked on a mission of opening a stronger and sustainable market giving oil companies a chance to strengthen their footing in the country to tackle with the jeopardy posed by depleting oil resources.

However, there  are challenges arising out of the lack of involvement from stakeholders in framing polices and in decision making; and lack of regulatory policies, in the sector of renewable energy, is hindering its pace of development. Specific resource assessments are needed in order to determine the market potential and should be the key research areas.

Future Perspectives

Solar energy in Oman is expected to become progressively cheaper in the near future and could be a best return for investments.  Its success is merely determined by the government’s regulatory policies, fiscal incentives and public financing.  The challenges that the solar industry faces are entering into a market that has essentially been dominated by oil industry. Subsidies and incentives should be provided by the government in the form of feed in tariffs so as to reassure a guaranteed price for electricity sold to the national grid by merging solar power technologies in power generation.

There is a dire need for political support for renewable energy to take its competition, economically, in the free market. Laws governing power generation regulation should provide more flexibility for renewables and should be incentive-oriented to attract the stake holders.  

A positive investment environment, strong property rights and low tax regimes, with established participation in the power sector from leading international firms, will certainly boost solar energy applications. The country needs to develop clear strategic plans for future in the development of solar energy. If a quick and appropriate regulatory framework is not accelerated, neighboring countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), would take the benefits of becoming regional revolutionary leaders in the use of solar energy.

Parting Shot

With its strong solar resources and existing universities, Oman has an opportunity to pioneer professional demonstration and monitoring capability as an international technology provider and take an active role to establish advanced professional skills base in science and engineering and expand its arenas in modern solar-efficient architecture and energy management.

But the question still remains: Can the solar power bring about a revolutionary change to power most of Oman?

References

http://esatjournals.net/ijret/2013v02/i07/IJRET20130207029.pdf – Volume: 02 Issue: 07 | Jul-2013, Available @ http://www.ijret.org

https://www.y-oman.com/2016/04/watts-up/

Role of CSP in South Africa’s Power Sector

Demand for electricity in South Africa has increased progressively over several years and the grid now faces supply and demand challenges. As a result, the Department of Energy has implemented a new Integrated Resource Plan to enhance generation capacity and promote energy efficiency. Photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) are set to be the main beneficiaries from the new plan having their initial allocation raised considerably.

Daily power demand in South Africa has a morning and evening peak, both in summer and winter. This characteristic makes CSP with storage a very attractive technology for generating electricity on a large scale compared to PV, which currently can provide electricity at a cheaper price, but its capability to match the demand is limited to the morning demand peak.

As experts highlight, CSP is the only renewable technology that provides dispatchable electricity that adapts to the demand curve, though at a higher price than PV. However, the government in South Africa has recognized the flexibility that it offers to the grid (matching the demand and stabilizing the system) over the levelised cost of energy (LCOE), and announced a bid window in March 2014 solely for CSP, where 200 MW are to be allocated.

CSP’s operational flexibility allows the plant to be run in a conventional mode at maximum power output, store the excess energy and use the full load once the sun starts setting. Another option is to adapt the production to the demand, reducing the load during the central hours of the day where PV can provide cheaper electricity, and shift that energy to generate at later hours without requiring a large storage system.

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الطاقة المتجددة….مستقبل الكامن في السهل الممتنع

لقد دلت المؤشرات على أن متوسط استهلاك الفرد للطاقة في المملكة العربية السعودية بلغ ضعف متوسط الإستهلاك العالمي بحسب الاحصاءات,و تعد بذلك من أعلى المستويات في العالم. مع العلم أن نسبة استهلاك أجهزة التكييف للطاقة الكهربائية تمثل أكثر من 70 بالمائة و ترتفع هذ النسبة في فصل الصيف لتصل إلى 100 بالمائة مما يشكل إختلالآ في عمل المنظومات الكهربائية.

فلذلك تعمل المملكة العربية السعودية الآن على تبني مصادر متنوعة للطاقة المتجددة و استكشاف الطرق الرامية إلى تحسين أداء الطاقة البترولية والحد من أثآرها على البيئة ويمكنها في نهاية المطاف أن تحقق الاستدامة من خلال تنويع مصادر هذه الطاقة. فالإعتماد على مصادر الطاقة المتجددة مهم جداً ، مثل الطاقة الشمسية الكثيفة بالإضافة إلى طاقة الرياح والطاقة الجوف أرضية وتنضم الطاقة الذرية إلى كل ذلك.

الطاقة الشمسية

علميآ تقع المملكة بمحاذاة الحزام الشمسي و هو عبارة عن نطاق قريب جدآ من المنطقة الإستوائية, حيث تبلغ سقوط أشعة الشمس أقصاها. فبذلك يعتبر موقعها مثالي جدآ للإستثمار في الطاقة الشمسية,ناهيك عن المساحات الواسعة و القادرة على استيعاب المعدات الهائلة لتوليد الطاقة. و تستقبل السعودية من الطاقة الشمسية ما يعادل 7 كيلوواط في الساعة لكل متر مربع في ساعات النهار, مما يؤهلها لتكون الدولة الأمثل للإستفادة منها و لإبتكار حلول تكنولوجية في المستقبل.

طاقة الرياح

تمثل طاقة الرياح اليوم أهمية متزايدة في جميع أنحاء العالم , و تتمتع المملكة بمؤهلات جيدة للإستفادة من هذه الطاقة. حيث قدر توفرالرياح القوية من 4 إلى 5 ساعات يوميآ, و يعد هذا المعدل الأعلى في الشرق الأوسط. و من الجدير بالذكر الخطط الطامحة من قبل المملكة في الإستفادة من هذه الطاقة لإنتاج 9 جيجاواط خلال السنوات العشرون القادمة.

الطاقة الذرية

توجهت المملكة حاليآ نحو إنتاج الطاقة الذرية. و يعتبر تأسيس مدينة الملك عبدالله للطاقة الذرية و المتجددة أكبر دليل على ذلك. فإن  تنفيذ مشاريع لتوليد الطاقة الكهربائية و إنتاج مياه محلاة تعتبر من أكبر أهدافها. و لكن كشفت بعض الأراء بأن محطات توليد هذه الطاقة لن تستطيع العمل بكفاءة و الإنتاج إلا بعد مضي عشر سنوات.

فهل ستتمكن المملكة من التحول والإعتماد على مزيج متوازن ومستدام من مصادر الطاقة ليس لأسباب بيئية وحسب ولكن لأهمية مصادر الطاقة هذه و التي من شأنها المساعدة في بناء قطاع إقتصادي متنوع، يوفر المزيد من فرص الأعمال والوظائف، الأمر الذي سيرفع من مستوى حياة المواطنين وينقل المملكة لتصبح إحدى الدول الرائدة في مجال الطاقة البديلة على مستوى العالم.

رفع أسعار النفط المحلي

لتحقيق هذا الأمل الوردي, هناك المزيد من الخطوات العملية يجب أن تطبق في مجال التشجيع على الاستثمار في الطاقة النظيفة. فهل من الممكن رفع أسعار النفط المحلي؟ و ما أثره ذلك اقتصاديآ و اجتماعيآ؟ أليس من الأهم التركيز على دفع عجلة البناء والإقتصاد ومن ثم العمل على الخطط البديلة للطاقة كناتج للتقدم الحضاري؟

المجهودات الحكومية لتقليل الاستهلاك الداخلي المسرف للطاقة دائماُ ماتقابل بمعوقات مرتبطة بقلة أسعار الوقود.بالطبع يساعد خفض أسعار النفط سواء كان وقود للمركبات أو الكهرباء في التخفيف من الفقر وتحفيز التنمية في الاقتصاد غير النفطي ولكن من الممكن أن الآثار السلبية تطغى على الإيجابية, حيث أنها قد ترسخ عدم الكفاءة في الإستهلاك خصوصاُ مع الآراء المتصاعدة والمنبئة بنضوب مصادر البترول قريباً. رفع الدعم الحكومي للطاقة المستهلكة داخليا من شأنه تشجيع استخدام البدائل الصديقة للبيئة وبقدر مايعتقد الكثير أن ذلك من السهل حدوثه فإن التحول للطاقة النظيفة يلزمه الكثير من العمل على المستوى الفردي والمؤسسي مما يجعل الطاقة البديلة السهل الممتنع.

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Renewable Energy Prospects in Africa

With a sixth of the world’s population, Africa generates a measly four percent of the world’s electricity, three-quarters of which is used by South Africa and northern Africa. According to World Bank statistics, more than 500 million Africans (almost two-thirds of the total population) have no access to “modern energy.” Hydropower accounts for around 45% of electricity generation in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) while biomass (mostly firewood) constitutes about 56 percent of all energy use in sub-Saharan Africa. Large-scale use of forest biomass is accelerating deforestation, and the World Bank estimates that 45,000 square kilometers of forest were lost between 1990 and 2005 across all low-income countries in Africa.

Africa has huge renewable energy potential with some of the world’s largest concentration of alternative energy resources in the form of solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy. Overall, 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in the top-33 countries worldwide with combined reserves of solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy far exceeding annual consumption. Most of the sub-Saharan countries receive solar radiation in the range of 6-8 kWh/m2/day, which counts among the highest amounts of solar radiation in the world. Until now, only a small fraction of Africa’s vast renewable energy potential has been tapped.  The renewable energy resources have the potential to cover the energy requirements of the entire continent.

Several African counties, such as South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Senegal, Madagascar, Rwanda and Mali have adopted national targets for renewable energy, and feed-in tariffs for renewable energy electricity have been introduced e.g. in South Africa and Kenya.   Countries such as South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are developing wind farms.  Geothermal investments are increasing in the Rift Valley area of Eastern Africa.  The pipeline of investments in Africa in hydropower, wind farms, solar PV and concentrated solar thermal, geothermal power and biomass energy underlines the huge potential for a future expansion of renewable energy across the continent.

The African Development Bank, through its public and private sector departments, is currently implementing several clean energy projects and programs to address these priorities particularly in the energy and forestry sectors. The Bank's energy portfolio currently stands at about USD 2 billion. The AfDB provides two lending windows. The first is a public window, with mostly concessional funds available to governments. The second is a private window, which offers debt and equity on commercial terms. 

Hydroelectric power generation represent an attractive investment in Africa because of tremendous hydropower generation potential, 60% of which is locked within Guinea, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The AfDB has committed its support to developing the Gibe III hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia. Wind farms are another lucrative investment arena for AfDB, as shown by AfDB’s commitment for 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Farm in Kenya.  Lake Turkana Wind Power (LWTP) consortium is constructing a wind farm consisting of 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kW, in Northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana. The wind power project is expected to reach full production of 300 MW by the end of 2012.  LTWP can provide reliable and continuous clean power to satisfy up to about 30% of Kenya’s current total installed power. 

The Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by 2012. African Development Bank, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco's National Electric Authority, is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 200 million Euros.

With growing concerns about climate change, AfDB has compiled a strong project pipeline comprised of small- to large-scale wind-power projects, mini, small and large hydro-power projects, cogeneration power projects, geothermal power projects and biodiesel projects. The major priorities for the Bank include broadening the supply of low-cost environmentally clean energy and developing renewable forms of energy to diversify power generation sources in Africa. The AfDB’s interventions to support climate change mitigation in Africa are driven by sound policies and strategies and through its financing initiatives the Bank endeavors to become a major force in clean energy development in Africa.

 

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Renewable Energy in Algeria

Algeria plays a key role in world energy markets as a leading producer and exporter of natural gas and liquefied natural gas. Algeria’s energy mix in 2010 was almost exclusively based on fossil fuels, especially natural gas (93%). However the country has enormous renewable energy potential, mainly solar, which the government is trying to harness by launching an ambitious Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program.

The Program consists of generating 22,000 MW of power from renewable sources between 2011 and 2030, of which 12,000 MW will be meant for domestic consumption and the rest for export. The Program is focused on developing and expanding the use of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydropower, in order to diversify energy sources and promote sustainable development of the country.

Around 60 solar photovoltaic plants, concentrating solar power plants, wind farms as well as hybrid power plants are to be constructed within the next ten years. Algeria has also joined the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which aims to use Sahara solar and wind power to supply 15 per cent of Europe's electricity needs by 2050. 

Solar Energy

On account of its geographical location, Algeria holds one of the highest solar potentials in the world which is estimated at 13.9 TWh per year. The country receives annual sunshine exposure equivalent to 2,500 KWh/m2. Daily solar energy potential varies from 4.66 kWh/m2 in the north to 7.26 kWh/m2 in the south.

Pilot projects for the construction of two solar power plants with storage of a total capacity of about 150 MW each, will be launched during the 2011-2013 period. These will be in addition to the hybrid power plant project of Hassi R’Mel with a total power capacity of 150 MW, including 25 MW in solar. Four solar thermal power plants with a total capacity of about 1,200 MW are to be constructed over the period of 2016 to 2020.

The Hassi R'Mel integrated solar combined cycle power station is one of world’s first hybrid power stations. The plant combines a 25 MW parabolic trough concentrating solar power array, covering an area of over 180,000 m2, in conjunction with a 130 MW combined cycle gas turbine plant, so cutting carbon emissions compared to a traditional power station. The gas turbine and steam cycle are fired by natural gas, with the steam turbine receiving additional solar-generated steam during the day. The plant began electricity production in June 2011.

Wind Energy

Algeria has promising wind energy potential of about 35 TWh/year. Almost half of the country experience significant wind speed. The country’s first wind farm is being built at Adrar with installed capacity of 10MW with substantial funding from state-utlity Sonelgaz. Two more wind farms, each of 20 MW, are to be developed during 2014- 2013. Studies will be led to detect suitable sites to realize the other projects  during the period 2016-2030 for a power of  about 1700 MW.

Biomass Energy

Algeria has good biomass energy potential in the form of solid wastes, crop wastes and forestry residues. Solid waste is the best source of biomass potential in the country. According to the National Cadastre for Generation of Solid Waste in Algeria, annual generation of municipal wastes is more than 10 million tons. Solid wastes are usually disposed in open dumps or burnt wantonly.

Conclusions

Despite being a hydrocarbon-rich nation, Algeria is making concerted efforts to harness its renewable energy potential. Algeria’s renewable energy program is one of the most progressive in the MENA region and the government is making all-out efforts to secure investments and reliable technology partners for ongoing and upcoming projects. It is expected that the country will emerge as a major player in international renewable energy arena in the coming years.

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Clean Energy Resources in Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is heavily dependent on oil imports from neighbouring countries to meet its energy requirements. The huge cost associated with energy imports creates a financial burden on the national economy and Jordan had to spend almost 20% of its GDP on the purchase of energy in 2008.

Electricity demand is growing rapidly, and the Jordanian government has been seeking ways to attract foreign investment to fund additional capacity. In 2008, the demand for electricity in Jordan was 2,260 MW, which is expected to rise to 5,770 MW by 2020. Therefore, provision of reliable and clean energy supply will play a vital role in Jordan’s economic growth.

In 2007, the Government unveiled an Energy Master Plan for the development of the energy sector, requiring an investment of more than $3 billion between the year 2007 and 2020. The major target of the Plan is to enhance the contribution of renewable energy in the energy mix to 7 percent by 2015 and upto 10 percent by 2020. Concerted efforts are underway to remove barriers to exploitation of renewable energy, particularly wind, solar and biomass. 

Renewable Energy Scenario

Jordan has been a pioneer in renewable energy promotion in the Middle East with its first wind power pilot project in Al-Ibrahemiya as early as 1988. Systematic monitoring of the technological developments and implementation/execution of demonstration and pilot projects has been the hallmark of Jordan’s foray into clean energy sector. However, renewable energy remains largely untapped due to high cost associated with non-conventional energy resources and relatively cheap availability of oil and natural gas.

With high population growth rate, increase in industrial and commercial activities, high cost of imported energy fuels and higher GHGs emissions, supply of cheap and clean energy resources has become a challenge for the Government. Consequently, the need for implementing energy efficiency measures and exploring renewable energy technologies has emerged as a national priority.  

Wind energy is feasible mainly in areas overlooking the Jordan Valley and Wadi Araba. Solar energy potential is also high since many parts of the country experience 300 to 320 days of full sunshine throughout the year. Biomass energy potential is also attractive in the form of urban wastes, organic industrial wastes and animal manure. With rapid technological advancements, other sources such as waste-to-energy, hydro power and geothermal energy are also realistic options.

Presently, Jordan has 1MW biogas plant that utilizes methane from biochemical decomposition of organic waste for electricity production. Expansions are underway to increase the total capacity to 5 MW. There are 2 MW wind farms at Hofa and Al‐Ibrahimiyah in the north working successfully. Moreover, there is an area of 1.35 million m2 of installed solar water heaters panels in Jordan, and a 150 KWh of installed photovoltaic power. In addition, there are 25 solar water heaters factories in Jordan which produce 4000 solar water heater annually.

Future plans include three wind parks with a total capacity of 125‐150 MW, and a hybrid Solar Power Plants (CSP) with a capacity of 100‐250 MW. 60% of the wind turbine parts in the wind parks are supposed to be provided by local wind turbine manufacturers. Meanwhile, private consortiums are looking to establish photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants in the Ma’an area. 

The €10-million ‘Capacity Building in Wind Energy and Concentrated Solar Power’ project, funded by the European Union, will support Jordan's National Energy Research Centre (NERC) to steer and facilitate the implementation of the Jordanian government's Renewable Energy Strategy 2007-2020 by installing a wind testing facility, as well as a pilot Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant.

Investment in Clean Energy

Jordan has tremendous wind, solar and biomass energy potential which can only be realized by large-scale investments. This transition from conventional fuels to renewable energy resources will require capital investments, technology transfer and human resources development, through a package of investments estimated at US $ 1.4 – 2.2 billion. The investment package includes Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) deals for wind energy with a total capacity of 660 MW and solar energy plants of 600 MW. This will be paralleled with the reduction of energy produced from oil from 58% currently to 40% in 2020. The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) is actively seeking support for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives through continuous cooperation with international partners and donors.

The best prospects for electricity generation in Jordan are as Independent Power Producers (IPPs).  This creates tremendous opportunities for foreign investors interested in investing in electricity generation ventures. Keeping in view the renewed interest in renewable energy, there is a huge potential for international technology companies to enter the Jordan market.  There is very good demand for wind energy equipments, solar power units and waste-to-energy systems which can be capitalized by technology providers and investment groups.

Government Initiatives

The government has also established a new Energy Fund to support the infrastructure development of new renewable energy facilities. In addition the government is seeking to provide tax incentives to remove the barriers for the comprehensive use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the Jordanian market. 

The strategy will be supported by a "Renewable Energy Law" which includes regulations and incentives for renewable energy production from investments in areas designated to be utilized to build renewable energy facilities. The law provides investors with a lot of incentives including 100 percent exemption from income tax for 10 years. 

Private companies with renewable energy projects will now be able to negotiate directly with the Energy Ministry as part of a series of changes to the sector. Investments in renewable energy will be quicker as part of sweeping changes included in the recently endorsed Renewable Energy Law.

One of the major components of the legislation allows local and international companies to bypass a competitive bidding process and negotiate with the ministry directly to establish renewable energy projects. Also under the law, the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) will be obligated to purchase any and all electricity produced by renewable energy power plants. The law will also allow citizens with solar power or wind turbines to sell electricity back to their electricity provider. 

Conclusion

There has been significant progress in the implementation of clean energy systems in Jordan, with active support from the government and increasing awareness among the local population. In the recent past, Jordan has witnessed a surge in initiatives to generate power from renewable resources with financial and technical backing from the government, international agencies and foreign donors.  Jordan has the potential to become a regional energy hub characterised by political as well as economic stability.  The already accomplished projects and studies in this field has provided Jordan with scientific and practical experience, qualifying it for entering a new phase of renewable energy development by means of cooperation between local institutions and foreign companies. 

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Cleantech Investment by AfDB

The African Development Bank, through its public and private sector departments, is currently implementing several clean energy projects and programs to address these priorities particularly in the energy and forestry sectors. The Bank's energy portfolio currently stands at about USD2 billion. The AfDB provides two lending windows. The first is a public window, with mostly concessional funds available to governments. The second is a private window, which offers debt and equity on commercial terms. 

The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank are in the process of applying to the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) Trust Fund Committee for use of $750 million of concessional funds for the MENA CSP Scale-up. For example, over the first half of 2012, AfDB approved USD800 million in loans to spur private investments in Morocco's renewable energy sector. The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), financially supported by Denmark, aims to support the implementation of AfDB's strategy to provide grants and equity to small-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency project. 

The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank, in collaboration with other donors, are launching an initiative to scale-up Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) up to 1GW over 6-8 years by means of around ten large projects in Africa. Hydroelectric power generation represent an attractive investment opportunity for AfDB as Africa has tremendous hydropower generation potential, 60% of which is locked within Guinea, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The AfDB has committed its support to developing the Gibe III hydroelectric dam, in Ethiopia. Wind farms are another lucrative investment arena for AfDB, as shown by AfDB’s commitment for 300MW Lake Turkana Wind Farm in Kenya. 

Evolution One Fund

In 2009, the African Development Bank has approved a Rand100 million investment in Evolution One Fund, the first specialized private equity fund focused on the acceleration and deployment of clean energy and sustainable technologies across southern Africa. The 10-year private equity fund, managed by Cape Town-based Inspired Evolution Investment Management, will seek to invest predominantly in growth-phase businesses, particularly in eight high-growth sectors, namely clean energy/energy efficiency (up to 50% of its investments), efficient and clean manufacturing processes and technologies, air quality and emissions control. South Africa will account for 60-75% of the fund's overall investments, while up to 25-40% will be earmarked for other Southern African Development Community countries. 

Ain Beni Mathar Solar Project

The Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is the Bank's first experience in solar power. It is working in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco's National Electric Authority. The African Development Bank is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 187.85 million Euros. The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW soon. 

Lake Turkana Wind Project

Lake Turkana Wind Power (LWTP) consortium is constructing a wind farm consisting of 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 kW, in Northwest Kenya near Lake Turkana. The wind power project has full production of 300 MW.  LTWP can provide reliable and continuous clean power to satisfy up to about 30% of Kenya’s current total installed power. The AfDB Group is facilitating the entire project cost of US$405 million, out of which, the institution intends to provide US$135 million. The AfDB has also agreed to invest US$19 million in a wind power project in the Republic of Cape Verde, off the western coast of Africa. This total cost of the project, consisting of four wind farms with more than 120 wind turbines, is US$84 million.

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Alternative Energy Prospects in Morocco

Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. The country currently imports 95% of its energy needs which creates strong dependence on foreign energy imports. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. Morocco is already spending over US$3 billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year. Morocco is investing heavily in the power sector by building new power plants such as expansion of coal power plant in JorfLasfer and establishment new coal power plant near Safi.

According to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and Mining, the total installed capacity of renewable energy (excluding hydropower) was approximately 300MW in 2011. The Moroccan Government has already achieved its target of supplying around 8% of total primary energy from renewables by 2012 which includes energy generation, conversion and distribution. Morocco is planning USD13 billion expansion of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation capacity which would catapult the share of renewables in the energy mix to 42% by the year 2020, with solar, wind and hydro each contributing 14%. 

Wind Energy

The technical potential of wind energy in Morocco is estimated to be 25 GW. This is the equivalent to 5 times the current installed power capacity in Morocco, and reflects the huge potential in this clean energy source. Morocco has already installed almost 300 MW wind turbines and other projects are being implemented. At the same time, Morocco launched a wind energy plan consisting in the installation of 2000 MW by 2020. Many experts state that Morocco will install total capacities beyond this plan. In fact, wind energy is already cost competitive with respect to conventional energy resources, and due to the technological progress, the cost is even being reduced significantly. Most of the already implemented projects and those being implemented or planned, are developed by public organisations or within the framework of agreements with public organisations.

Solar Energy

The German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) estimated the potential of solar energy in Morocco to be equivalent to 1500 times the national consumption of electricity. Morocco has invested in solar home systems (SHS) to electrify households in the rural areas. Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plan with investment of USD 9billion. The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa.  The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by the end of 2012. y building mega-scale solar power projects at five location — Laayoune (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power mechanisms.

Hydropower

Morocco is planning to add a total of 2 GW new hydropower capacities, consisting mainly in small and medium stations. This plan should be achieved by 2020, and combined with 2 GW solar energy and 2 GW wind energy capacities would, add a total 6GW renewable energy capacities, which will supply 42% of the Moroccan electricity in 2020. 

Biomass Energy

Unfortunately there is no national strategy to exploit biomass energy in Morocco. However, there are many potential projects which could promote biomass energy sector in the country, such as waste-to-energy, biofuels and biogas from abundant feedstock like solid wastes, crop wastes, industrial wastes etc. The agronomic research has demonstrated the adaptability of new energetic plants to the arid zones. These plants such as Jatropha urcas, could be cultivated in the arid zone in Morocco, and be exploited for biofuels production and as a green barrier against desertification. Like solar and wind, the biomass energy sector also requires support and investment from the government and private sector.

Conclusions

Morocco is endowed with tremendous alternative energy resources which can be exploited to meet national energy requirements as well as export of surplus power to neighbouring countries. Due to its geographical position, Morocco could be a hub for renewable energy exchange between the European Union and North Africa. Renewable energy sector can create good employment opportunities and can also strengthen country’s economy. However, the government should liberalize renewable energy market, encourage public-private partnership and create mass environmental awareness to increase the share of renewable in the national energy mix.