x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The country’s first association representing the interests of solar energy companies has rebranded with a new focus on the Middle East. The UAE is, however, likely to remain the hub for clean energy companies in the region.

The UAE’s first association representing the interests of solar energy companies has rebranded itself with a new focus on the Middle East.

Founded in 2009, the Emirates Solar Industry Association was yesterday renamed the Middle East Solar Industry Association, or Mesia, with the move reflecting expected growth in regional solar markets.

“We felt it was a natural evolution,” said Vahid Fotuhi, the president of Mesia. “We think [that] more and more, the solar market will take place across the Middle East, not just Dubai or Abu Dhabi.”

The region was expected to generate solar power projects worth about US$155 billion, with capabilities to generate more than 84 gigawatts of power, Mesia said.

Many of the association’s 120 members already had offices in other parts of the region and in the UAE, and they had encouraged Mesia to broaden its scope of business, said Mr Fotuhi.

Jordan – where 170 megawatts of new solar projects are expected in the next 12 months – as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar are viewed as being among the most prominent new markets for solar companies.

While the region’s solar power capacity remained negligible compared to its conventional resources, the market had been doubling in size every year, said Mr Fotuhi.

“This move is a reflection of the increasing relevance of solar [power] in the Middle East,” he said.

The UAE, among the first Middle Eastern countries to signal an interest in solar energy, was still likely to maintain its position as a regional hub for companies in the field because of its stable market, good infrastructure and “stable regulatory regime”, said Mr Fotuhi.

“The UAE is a natural hub for the Middle East and we feel [that] many of our members will keep their presence here while still exploring opportunities in other countries in the region,” he said.

vtodorova@thenational.ae