Renewable Power Projects Overtake Oil & Gas In Middle East

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) awarded as much as US$2.8 billion worth of renewable energy projects in the first half of 2021, compared to not a single contract award for oil- or gas-fueled power stations in the region, MEED Insight’s new report Middle East Energy Transition showed.

To compare, the average value of contract awards for oil- or gas-powered stations stood at $4.8 billion annually between 2017 and 2020, according to the report. Last year alone, $6.2 billion worth of oil and gas power plant contracts were awarded.

This year, the focus is on emission reductions and raising the share of renewables in the domestic power mix of the countries in the MENA region, according to the report.

Currently, MENA has 28 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity installed, most of which­—21 GW—is hydropower. Renewables, including hydropower, account for just 7 percent of MENA’s power generation capacity. But countries, including major oil producers and exporters such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), plan to install significant solar power capacity in the coming years, the report says.

As much as 98 GW of renewable capacity is planned to be added in the MENA region, 39 GW of which is expected to come online by the middle of this decade, according to the report.

Green hydrogen is also a trend in MENA countries, MEED Insights notes.

The biggest oil-exporting region in the world, the Middle East, has set its sights on becoming a major clean energy exporter of green hydrogen. Hydrogen is expected to play a prominent role in lowering carbon emissions from energy-intensive industries. And the Middle East doesn’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

On the one hand, it wants to show the world it can export clean energy—not only crude oil—as the global energy transition accelerates. On the other hand, the oil-dependent economies of some of OPEC’s largest producers are determined to diversify into green energy exports and away from oil.

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