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Middle East Turns to Solar Power

Leon Walker

ShamsAs the global search for alternative sources of power grows, traditionally oil-rich nations in the Middle East are turning to another source of energy they have in abundance, sunshine, reports Forbes.

The trend can be seen in a couple of major solar initiatives including Abu Dhabi’s Shams 1 solar power plant – the world’s largest – that came online in March. Shams (pictured), which means sun in Arabic, generates around a tenth of the world’s solar thermal electricity, Forbes says.

Last year, Saudi Arabia announced plans to spend $109 billion on solar energy, as part of its bid to source a third of its energy from renewable resources by 2032, according to Forbes.

The Middle East‘s spend on solar is set to increase 40 percent every year until 2017, compared to just 5-10 percent in the US and Europe, according to a report by IHS.

Smaller startups are also getting in on the solar boom. One such new company, Karmsolar, is attempting to solve the region’s chronic water supply issues through solar-powered desalination systems and water pumps.

A study by S&P has put this increased interest in solar down to rising oil prices. According to S&P, the annual value of solar activity rose each year from 2004 to 2008 reaching in $3.1 billion 2008. Oil prices peaked in 2008, S&P found.

On July 8, Germany set a world record by producing 23,900 MW of solar electricity in a single day, but recent projections expect that the US could soon surpass Germany in solar investments, sustainability consultant Kristina Ross wrote in a column for EMT in August.

A report released by CohnReznick LLP and Clean Energy Pipeline found that the US is the most attractive place in the world for future investments in renewable energy, including mergers and acquisitions, Ross wrote.

According to the report, the renewable energy mergers and acquisitions that took place in the United States during 2012 are valued at $10.1 billion.



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