The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and nearby Asia, have emerged as two of the fastest growing and most dynamic economic blocs in the world. For most of the first decade of the 21st century, the markets of these regions – in which Abu Dhabi is at the centre – have grown collectively at more than 7% a year.
To give a sense of their size, the combined GDP of the countries of the MENA region plus India and Pakistan is US$3.2 trillion, and it is set to grow 5% per year over the next five years – driven by three main factors: strong population growth rates, substantial legal and regulatory reforms, and market liberalisations that have unlocked a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit and paved the way for companies to grow and expand.
In addition to these macroeconomic factors, the cleantech and renewable energy industry across this broad area is poised for a period of sustained growth, fuelled by both government and private sector interest. Just in the Middle East and North Africa region, the cleantech market is expected to be worth US$100 billion by 2014.
On the policy side, there is a growing commitment from governments in these regions to sustainable development, reflected in ambitious goals to increase the renewable energy share in the national power generation mix, as well as the creation of increasingly supportive regulatory environments.
At the same time, businesses in the region are becoming increasingly aware of both corporate social responsibility and bottom-line reasons to implement green building, supply chain and business operations elements to their organisation, further fuelling demand for renewable energy and cleantech services and solutions.
For example, Abu Dhabi has committed to secure 7% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, while Kuwait has pledged to produce 5% of its energy requirements from renewable power generation by 2020. Egypt plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by the year 2020. Morocco seeks to develop 2,000MW of wind, 2,000MW of hydroelectric and 2,000MW of solar power capacity by 2020, approximately 42% of its total power capacity. Jordan has set a target of 10% renewable power by 2020, including 1,200MW of wind energy and 600WM of solar. India is aiming to have 25GW of installed renewable grid-connected power by March 2012, representing more than 10% of total power production nationwide.
Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar are implementing green building standards, while World Green Building Council member organisations have been established in the UAE and India, and are under certification in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. India is rapidly adding renewable energy power and as of March 2010 had a total installed renewable energy capacity of nearly 17GW, more than many industrialised nations at that time.
The UAE, through a joint venture between Masdar, France’s Total and Spain’s Abengoa, is building a 100MW CSP plant, and through Masdar is planning another 100MW solar PV plant; Yemen is pursuing a 60MW wind farm; Dubai is evaluating sites for a 10-100MW solar energy power project; Morocco is moving ahead with a 500MW solar facility, while Syria is designing a 50-100MW wind farm. Saudi Arabia is preparing its renewable and nuclear energy strategy after having established the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. It also is working on a 17MW solar hot water system.