Wind-power tipped to triple in MENA over next ten years while solar reigns

30 March 2018 4 min. read
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Renewable energy specialists MAKE Consulting has projected a tripling in annual wind-power capacity additions for the Middle East and Africa to 2027 in its latest ten-year forecast. The release of the report was followed by the announcement that SoftBank and the Saudi government would build a solar park capable of generating an unprecedented 200GW in the Kingdom by 2030.

MAKE Consulting, which in 2017 became part of the global energy and resources research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie (itself under the banner of data analytics agency Verisk), has released its latest ten-year global forecast for the wind-power sector, predicting a 30 percent bump in annual global capacity additions to 2020, followed by a 30%-plus period of growth to 2027 driven by sustained momentum from emerging markets – averaging out at more than 65GW and a CAGR of 4%.

With a range of considerable wind projects being announced or underway in MENA, including Egypt’s plan to develop the region’s largest generation farm in the Suez Bay, as well as an ongoing push in Morocco and Oman’s recent resolution to join the mix, the combined Middle East and Africa are projected by MAKE to triple in capacity additions to 2027 – driven largely by the contributions of these and other emerging markets – with the consulting firm last year tipping 40GW to be added to the region over the ten-year forecast period at a CAGR of 22%.

While impressive, considering the region had only the 1GW less than a decade ago, the projected added capacity of the wind-power forecast is dwarfed by this week’s announced agreement between the Saudi government and SoftBank Vision Fund to build a $200 billion solar power development in the country – with an ultimate production capacity on completion by 2030 of up to 200GW alone. As a comparison, Saudi Arabia’s entire current installed capacity sits at around 60GW, while the world’s next largest solar project in the pipeline is proposed at 2GW.Wind-power capacity tipped to triple in MENA over next ten years while solar reignsThe ambitious development is in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, one of the numerous national transformation programmes sweeping the region in an effort to diversify local economies away from a reliance of hydrocarbons – recently prompting Big Four firm Deloitte to set up a Digital Delivery Centre in Riyadh with the support of the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and the strategy and management firm A.T. Kearney to establish a National Transformations Institute in Dubai.

Meanwhile, the $93 billion innovation and tech-focused SoftBank Vision Fund, streets ahead as the world’s largest ever corporate venture capital fund, has an equally bold and disruptive agenda, and counts among its backers the UAE’s state-owned investment body Mubadala along with the sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIV) of Saudi Arabia – where Softbank has been said to be intending to invest as much $25 billion over the next few years, including $10 billion reportedly slated for a stake in Saudi Electricity co. to aid its diversification toward solar and renewable energies.

Yet, while the big money and glamour projects may be tilting toward solar, with large cost-efficiency gains projected in the sector, the Mediterranean East General Manager for the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, Rainer Karan, said last year that there’s still great potential for the wind sector in the MENA region, noting that “wind and solar are complementary renewable technologies.”

This potential includes Saudi Arabia, with its Red Sea Coast featuring relatively high wind-speeds according to the Abu-Dhabi head-quartered International Renewable Energy Agency. "More than 56 percent of the GCC’s surface area has significant potential for wind deployment. Covering just 1 percent of this area could translate into an equivalent 60GW of capacity,” the intergovernmental agency said in a previous report.