Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, UAE

Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, UAE

Making waves with renewable energy

The Middle East’s eagerness to seize on its naturally-occurring assets is translating into an accelerating pace for renewable projects regionally, says a WFES report

December 2019

Exponential increases in renewable energy investments and project delivery are now something of an expected norm and 2019 continues to live up to this prediction. Unsurprisingly, the Middle East North Africa (Mena) region remains firmly committed to being an integral part of the global transition towards a cleaner energy future, according to a World Future Energy Summit (WFES) report.

Each month this year brings further news of renewables gaining greater prominence in the region as investment figures climb and landmark projects are either announced or delivered. Against a backdrop of global solar funding reaching $6 billion for the first half of 2019, the Middle East’s eagerness to seize on its naturally-occurring assets – namely sunshine and wind in this case – is translating into an accelerating pace for renewable projects regionally, it said.

This year also saw Mena’s renewables pipeline, with highly innovative new projects getting underway while also witnessing the culmination of the world’s largest solar power plant as it begins operations.



The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has announced that it will be seeking initial proposals for a floating solar photovoltaic plant as part of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 (DCES 2050) initiative. The chosen contractors will need to find a suitable site in the Arabian Gulf and conduct a feasibility test, an environmental impact study, necessary marine requirements and safety plans for the project, the report observed.

Mena’s renewables pipeline has highly innovative new projects

Mena’s renewables pipeline has highly innovative new projects

If successful, this will be a highly significant development for Dubai and for the wider region, as the achievement of a large-scale floating solar PV plant will no doubt encourage the green-lighting of further projects of a similar nature.

For Mena countries, being able to utilise their coastal areas for renewable energy purposes will be a huge boon as it will unlock a much wider range of site options that are close to their existing cities and logistical hubs. Subsequently, this will likely drive down operational and construction costs by improving ease of access.

If Dewa can pull this one off, the organisation will be one step closer to achieving DCES 2050, which has the ultimate ambition of making: “Dubai the city with the lowest carbon footprint in the world by 2050”, the report remarked. This requires the delivery of at least 42GW of renewable energy to make up 75 per cent of the city’s energy, it added.



The very end of last month saw the Noor Abu Dhabi project become the biggest single operational solar power plant in the world with its total capacity of 1.177GW. Constructed by a consortium of prominent Emirati, Chinese and Japanese companies, this $870 million power plant is record breaking in a number of ways, including its 2.4 cents per kWh price for its produced electricity, the lowest for any completed solar project.

However, with the solar industry advancing so quickly, Noor Abu Dhabi is unlikely to retain its crown for long. Already, the Abu Dhabi Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) has a tender out for a 2GW solar facility, and the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund aims to produce a 2.6GW solar pipeline in the Mecca region.

clean energy

Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) has used its futuristic planned city project – Masdar City – as a fertile testing ground for all manner of cleantech projects since its inception in 2006. During the last 13 years, it has steadily developed investments of over $12 billion in renewable energy projects, currently representing 4GW of clean energy capacity spread across 25 countries worldwide.

Major developments nearing completion include the 800MW third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, which Masdar has partnered with Dewa to deliver in 2020. Similar progress is being made on 200MW Baynouna solar energy project, which will be Jordan’s biggest solar power plant when it comes online next year.



Giving its outlook for the region, the report said that Mena is certainly not resting on its clean energy laurels, as the delivery of major renewable projects continues to be quickly followed by announcements of new, often larger, projects in turn.

This accelerating pace and growing ambition for developing solar and other renewables means that the region remains on track to assume even greater importance as a world leader in clean energy at the start of the next year and the new decade.

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