Middle East’s Renewable Energy Surge: Focus on Solar Photovoltaics

The Middle East is experiencing a significant shift towards renewable energy, particularly emphasizing solar photovoltaics. This move is a part of a broader global trend towards sustainable energy sources. Countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are at the forefront of this transition, setting ambitious goals for clean energy.

IRENA’s Insights on Middle East’s Renewable Energy Trends The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has been closely monitoring these developments. IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera, in a dialogue with Al Arabiya English, underscored the increasing awareness and need for sustainable energy in Middle Eastern countries. According to IRENA’s recent report, within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, solar photovoltaics have become the most cost-effective method for electricity generation, surpassing traditional energy sources like natural gas.

Country-Specific Renewable Energy Goals

  • Turkey: With rising energy demand due to population growth, industrialization, and economic development, Turkey has significantly increased its solar and wind energy capacity since 2014. By 2022, renewables contributed to 42% of Turkey’s total energy output, a substantial increase from previous years.
  • Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia aims to boost its solar and wind capacity to 59 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, aspiring to achieve a 50% renewable mix in its electricity generation.
  • UAE: The UAE has set ambitious targets, aiming for 30% of its electricity to come from clean sources by 2031, including both renewable and nuclear power.

Decentralized Energy Systems and Climate Change La Camera also highlighted the importance of decentralized energy systems in the global effort to keep the climate change threshold at 1.5 degrees Celsius. These remarks align with Sultan Al Jaber’s (CEO of UAE’s ADNOC and COP28 President) statements on the need for a balanced approach in the energy transition.

UAE’s Role in Global Renewable Energy A notable development in the renewable energy sector is Masdar’s 10GW expansion project across six sub-Saharan African countries, reflecting the UAE’s commitment to aiding Africa’s energy transition. This initiative is part of the UAE’s efforts to meet the growing global demand for hydrogen, focusing on sectors where decarbonization is challenging.