Renewables have a key role to play in the region’s sustainable energy transition which must be considered within a broader framework of socio-economic development of the region, with ripple effect of renewables deployment throughout society by economic growth and diversification, job creation, improved balance of trade as well as bolstered water security.
Despite strong resource potential throughout the region, as of 2015, nearly 80 percent of non-hydro renewable energy growth was concentrated in only four of the 22 Member States, with renewables constituting only six percent of total installed power generation capacity. However, current trends show that the renewable energy landscape is rapidly evolving and significant developments have taken place. In 2016, USD 11 billion were invested in renewables across the Arab region compared to USD 1.2 billion in 2008, or a nine-fold increase in only eight years. Today, several countries in the region are among the global frontrunners in renewable energy development. The recent auctions resulted in the world-record solar prices, including, 17.8 USD/MWh for the Sakaka project in Saudi Arabia, 24.2 and 29.9 USD/MWh in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively. The region recognizes the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy deployment, which is perceived as an opportunity for industrial diversification, new value-chain activities and technology transfer. Building on this drive, Morocco has developed a local industry through skills capacity building for solar water heaters to create 13,000 new jobs. Moreover, the world’s largest CSP plant in Ouarzazate meets 42 percent of its plant requirements from local domestic manufacturing. Morocco continues to lead the region in terms of total installed renewable generating capacity to meet 52 percent of the country’s total installed renewable generating capacity by 2030.
Furthermore, the ambitious targets set by all countries of the region are expected to translate into a combined 80 GW of renewable capacity by 2030 based on national plans to fulfill the countries’ ambitions, the establishment of policy, regulatory, technical and economic frameworks enabling the scaled-up deployment of renewables will be indispensable, as highlighted in a number of IRENA’s country specific assessments through Renewables Readiness Assessments and/or Renewable Energy Roadmaps and multi-stakeholder engagement at the regional level, towards advancing the creation of an integrated power market across the region, reflected in the Pan Arab Clean Energy Initiative (PACE).