UAE leads regional focus on solar energy development

The Middle East’s lead role in the growth of the solar power industry will be underlined by a new event in the UAE, creating major opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers worldwide to capitalise on heavy investment by regional governments.

The launch of the three-day Solar Middle East exhibition in Dubai, announced today, reflects a strong regional focus on development of solar power facilities, with at least ten major projects worth a combined US$6.8 billion under way in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

The UAE continues to lead the way as part of the strategy to reduce its reliance on fossil fueled power generation, spearheaded by the US$600 million Shams 1 in Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant which is expected to be completed by August 2012.

In Dubai, where the new exhibition will debut next February, the US$3.2 billion Al Maktoum Solar Park is slated to begin construction in 2014 and will reach a peak of 1,000MW production capacity upon its scheduled completion in 2030.

More planned solar power projects in the region include the US$150 million solar enhanced oil recovery (EOR) Project in Oman, which will begin construction next year, and the US$525 million 100 MW Solar Power Plant in Kom Ombo, Egypt, also set to begin construction in 2013.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has big plans for the future as it looks to attract US$109 billion in investment to create a solar industry generating a third of the nation’s electricity – the equivalent of 41 gigawatts – by 2032.

The influx of new and planned solar projects in the region and the business opportunities being created will be spotlighted by the inaugural edition of Solar Middle East, which takes place from 17-19 February, 2013 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The three-day event, co-located with Middle East Electricity exhibition, is expected to attract more than 150 suppliers of solar products from around the world who are looking to tap into a lucrative Middle East North Africa (MENA) market.

According to a recent report by GlobalData, the MENA region is tipped as the upcoming solar power investment destination for major market players, with energy experts predicting the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan to be the key countries fueling further growth.

Anita Mathews, Exhibition Director of Solar Middle East, said: "The MENA region is perfectly poised to take advantage of solar technology, with a staggering 630,000 terawatt hours of solar energy falling on the region every year. As such, governments are investing heavily in the application of solar technology." "We decided to introduce Solar Middle East as a dedicated event for the solar power industry in response to a significant increase of exhibitors and visitors at Middle East Electricity that are involved in solar." "With the regional solar landscape set to expand dramatically in the coming years as new technology enters the market, the timing is perfect to launch Solar Middle East in 2013, and we look forward to a hugely successful first year." Solar Middle East is officially supported by solar industry partner associations, the Saudi Arabia Solar Industries Association (SASIA), and the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA).

Browning Rockwell, Founder and Chairman of SASIA, said: "Solar energy is poised for rapid growth in Saudi Arabia and the wider MENA region, as a host of public announcements made by regional governments indicate their plans to embrace renewable energy. Saudi, Oman, and Kuwait have all announced plans to produce at least 10 per cent of its energy from solar and renewables by 2020, while Egypt, Jordan, and Algeria have also set similar goals.

"SASIA is looking forward to partnering with the launch of Solar Middle East 2013 in Dubai, and extending the partnership as the growth in the MENA solar industry presents more opportunities for private sector companies in the renewable energy and cleantech space." Solar Middle East will also feature a dedicated industry conference, addressing key challenges that the Middle East region faces regarding harnessing the infinite resource and integrating it into regional power grids.

Solar Middle East is organised by Informa Exhibitions (, the largest publicly owned organiser of conferences and courses in the world with more than 10,000 events annually. In the Middle East, Informa has a portfolio of more than 40 large scale events and conferences, making it the largest trade and consumer event organiser in the region.