Gulf nations beginning to prove their solar demand is no mirage

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High profile solar developments have taken place recently in Dubai, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as lofty ambitions begin to bear fruit.

The governments of all three Gulf nations have in recent years expressed a need for diversification in their energy mix and now appear to be making tangible progress with solar at the forefront.

Oil is worth more to the economy exported than it is used at home and now the three largest states in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are looking to ways to cut their own fossil fuel use.

The Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum Solar Park was inaugurated in Dubai on Tuesday by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, seen as a first step toward achieving the nation’s goal of generating 5% of its energy from solar by 2030. The 13MW plant use First Solar panel and is the largest in the region. It is the first phase of a 1,000MW project located in the region of Seih Al-Dahal.

The Qatari government announced this week that it will launch a 200MW procurement process. The country has invested in its own polysilicon plant as it looks to do some of the manufacturing domestically.

Details of two installs at Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm Saudio Aramco have also been dripping through. Canadian Solar announced that it would provide 1.78MW of panels for the system at the company’s King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC). The install could grow to more than 5MW according to the installer Phoenix Solar.

Saudi Aramco already has a 10.5MW car port installation at its offices in Al Midra.

Saudi Arabia has given details of wider national plans to invest US$109 billion in solar energy.

A trade delegation from the UK will visit the country in November as it looks to boost its procurement chances.

The Gulf nations’ ambitions have been high profile and action to get initial projects of the ground and to kick-start procurement for larger swathes of capacity offers the industry reason to believe that there is another major new source of demand on its way.

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