ABU DHABI // A global renewable energy body has released a report claiming that the clean energy sector in the Middle East and North Africa will grow 60-fold by 2030.
The findings were presented at a meeting between the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (Ren21) in Abu Dhabi yesterday evening.
Factors that have already contributed to the "massive" potential growth include regional investment that topped US$2.9 billion (Dh10.6bn) in 2012, up 40 per cent from the previous year and 650 per cent since 2004.
"From Irena's headquarters in Abu Dhabi, we have been uniquely placed to witness renewable energy become a multi-billion dollar industry within the Mena region," said Adnan Amin, the director general of Irena. He said that modern renewable energy production is growing at a much faster rate than fossil fuels, which showed the regional appetite for change.
"The Mena Renewables Status Report provides unparalleled insights into the region, an emerging renewable energy champion. In just the last two years, renewable energy has transformed from a niche interest to a regional phenomenon reaching almost US$3bn in investment in 2012 alone," said Arthouros Zervos, chair of Ren21.
The report highlighted that all 21 Mena countries had renewable energy policy targets, up from five in 2007.
In addition, the report said that 18 countries enacted at least one renewable energy enabling policy by the start of this year.
The report also stated that the UAE still lacked a unified federal energy policy and, at present, is still more focused on investing in overseas manufacturing than developing local industry.
"This report demonstrates that the Mena region is rapidly taking a prominent role in accelerating the adoption of renewable energy," said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the minister of state and chief executive of Masdar, the country's primary green energy company.
"The UAE is committed to investing in renewable energy and has a goal of diversifying its energy sources while capitalising on the economic and social opportunities those investment present."
Dr Al Jaber highlighted the importance of the recently inaugurated Shams 1 solar power plant, which can generate 100 megawatts of clean energy.
"With our experience domestically and internationally, we look forward to contributing to the renewable energy sector's growth in the Mena region," he said.
Across the Mena region, there are more than 100 renewable energy projects, with a capacity of 7.5 gigawatts. Wind energy accounts for 1.1 gigawatts of that total.
Solar power generation is having rapid deployment, with an average growth rate of 112 per cent between 2008 and 2011. Further advances in the technology are expected across Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Morocco and the UAE in coming years.