Saudi, UAE, Qatar top Cleantech list

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Jordan are the most attractive markets for clean technologies, thanks to their government plans, budgets and long-term strategies, said a report by Ernst & Young.

These countries have also demonstrated investments in large initiatives such as KACARE, Masdar and the ‘Green’ Fifa World Cup 2022, said E&Y in the ‘2012 Middle East and North Africa (Mena) Cleantech Survey Report.’

Although Jordan has limited financial resources, a new law was issued on renewable energy, which may help create new jobs by increasing local content requirements for investments in renewable energy, it added.

Nimer AbuAli, Mena head of Cleantech, Ernst & Young said: ‘We see growing confidence in Mena Cleantech investments this year. The respondents were more optimistic than last year, mainly due to government support and various initiatives in the different countries in the region.’

‘We expect this trend to continue as more Cleantech projects are realized and more we see the immense benefits of renewable energy,’ he stated.

In the survey, 79 per cent of regional respondents said they expected an increase in Cleantech investments in the region over the next five years.

They also expect considerable increases in Cleantech investments in the GCC, reflecting the impressions of investors after recent announcements in the GCC and ambitious plans of Saudi and the UAE.

A total of 94 per cent of these respondents were more optimistic about Cleantech investments increasing in the GCC, compared with 73 per cent in North Africa and 67 per cent in the Levant.

Desertec project

The European Union and Mena governments and companies are planning to connect the region via an electrical energy grid capable of providing the Mena countries with considerable electricity and Europe with 15 per cent of its electricity needs by 2050 (the Desertec project).

Electricity will be generated mostly through renewable energy. 54 per cent of the respondents still believe that the Desertec project will be realized compared with 62 per cent last year, and 36 per cent believe that the project could be realized but on a smaller scale and at a reduced size.

The survey indentified four main drivers of Cleantech growth across the region: government policy, cost of the renewable energy, desire to reduce the use of fossil fuels and increased business efficiency.

Job creation was also cited as an important driver for growing Cleantech investment in the Levant as a result of population growth and elevated rates of unemployment.

According to Ernst & Young’s second quarterly Rapid-Growth Markets Forecast, over 15 million young people will enter the region’s workforce over the next decade. Cleantech may create employment opportunities for the relatively young and fast-growing labour force in Mena.

Almost one-third of the respondents favour solar energy as the number one potential source of renewable energy irrespective of their territories.

In a dramatic change from last year’s results, respondents selected energy efficiency as the second potential growth area across the region, with slight changes from one territory to another, followed by water and green buildings.

A majority of the respondents (75 per cent) cited Photovoltaic (PV) as the main solar technology for the region followed by just 19 per cent that named concentrated solar power (CSP). Respondents justified their selection mainly by the price per watt compared with the other technologies.

‘We see a change in the contribution of solar, water and energy efficiency technology to per capita consumption in the region as the costs for each technology deployment is declining,’ said Nimer.

‘For the GCC, energy efficiency and green buildings have become hot topics due to climatic conditions and high electricity consumption,’ he added.