PV manufacturer First Solar has become a shareholder in the Desertec Industrial Initiative, the industry consortium looking to tap the renewable energy potential of desert regions.

Previously an associated partner with Dii, First Solar said that becoming a shareholder demonstrated its commitment to the Middle East/north Africa (MENA) region.

First Solar is already active in the MENA, particularly the UAE, where it has a number of large-scale projects in the pipeline.

Christopher Burghardt, First Solar's Vice President of Business Development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: "Our extended dedication to Dii as a shareholder emphasises First Solar's commitment to the MENA region, where we see tremendous potential to build a sustainable market for solar power. Dii is the ideal industrial initiative to bring power from the deserts into reality.”

The news will be a boost to Dii, which towards the end of last year lost two high profile partners – Siemens and Bosch.

The organisation is looking to tap the high solar and wind energy potential of desert regions around the world by linking utility-scale projects in these areas with high demand electricity markets in Europe.