Solar photovoltaic electricity is competitive with conventional fossil fuel-based electricity generation, particularly for peak demand during the middle of the day, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to a new report.
Photovoltaic output matches well with demand patterns in MENA countries, where airconditioner use is a major draw on demand. The report, titled "Sunrise in the Desert: Solar Becomes Commercially Viable in the Middle East", by Manaar Consulting has been commissioned by the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA) and sponsored by international consultancy firm PwC.
The report’s author, Robin Mills, presented his findings at an ESIA press conference held on 17 January 2012 during the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). "The work that we’ve done here is very encouraging for the new competitiveness of solar power in the region," said Mills.
Factors such as falling costs of solar PV panels, rising costs of fuels used in conventional power generation and excellent fit to demand patterns challenge the prevailing view among many policy makers and utilities in the MENA region that solar is expensive unless heavily subsidised. In the case of some countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, domestic consumption of fossil fuels is steadily rising creating a demand for new sources of electricity.