Market Status: Middle East & North Africa - Some encouraging signs despite unrest

Despite widespread political unrest, the region saw 346MW installed in 2014, against 257MW the previous year. While some markets have ground to a halt there are encouraging signs in others, notably in Egypt and Morocco.

Construction, contracts and tenders in Egypt

Although Egypt installed no new capacity last year, remaining at 550MW for the second year in a row, tackling the electricity deficit is now a key area of government policy in the face of growing social unrest. Last year the government awarded six projects totalling 600MW to domestic company El-Sewedy Electric under a build, own and operate contract. The government also launched a tender for independent power producers under the new feed-in tariff (FIT), targeting 2GW by 2017. So far, it has awarded 1.67GW.

In the meantime, 200MW was slated to come online early this year on the Gulf of El-Zayt, equipped with Gamesa turbines. Nearby, Italgen has started civil works on its 120MW wind farm and expects to select a turbine supplier in the coming months.

Time moves slowly in Morocco

Morocco added 301MW in 2014 at Tarfaya, co-owned by Moroccan conglomerate Nareva Holdings and GDF Suez, using Siemens turbines. This brings the national total to 796MW. EDF Energies Nouvelles and Mitsui are still waiting for land-use rights to be confirmed before they can start work on their 150MW project at Taza, featuring Alstom turbines.

A tender for 850MW launched last year creeps forward, with bidders waiting for news over the timing of the commercial bids. Theolia expects to announce the winner of a tender for the repowering of its 50MW Koudia Al Baida plant this year.

Big project completed in Tunisia

In Tunisia, Gamesa commissioned the last 34MW of a 190MW facility near Bizerte last year, bringing installed capacity to 243MW. No additions are scheduled for 2015, but this spring the law on renewable energy should reach the statute book. Among other things, it will introduce a feed-in tariff for private-sector initiatives, revise the procurement process and lay down a framework for exporting clean power.

Some progress in Israel

While Israel is stuck at 6MW, 21MW is under construction at Sirin and Gilboa, again with Gamesa turbines, and Green Wind Energy hopes to complete the long-awaited repowering of its 6MW Golan Heights plant, installing six Goldwind 2.5MW machines by the end of the year. The government recently granted conditional licences for four projects totalling 461MW as part of its push to procure up to 1GW of wind in 2020.

Small steps in Algeria, Jordan and Oman

Algeria brought its first 10MW pilot project online in Adrar, with turbines supplied by Gamesa, and introduced a guaranteed premium purchase price for wind. The government then launched a renewables programme this year, which includes plans for 5GW wind by 2030, and has identified more than 20 sites suitable for wind-power deployment. Solar plans are greater at 13.5GW. A 1% levy on oil will help fund the guaranteed purchase price for renewables.

Jordan added only a single 1.65MW turbine, from Spanish-Egyptian manufacturer MTOI, at a demonstration project in 2014, taking it to 3MW in total. However, Vestas should complete a 117MW plant at Tafila this year, and Spanish energy group Elecnor expects to start work on 66MW at Maan, equipped with Gamesa turbines. The industry is still waiting to hear the outcome of a call for expressions of interest for projects of 50-100MW under the direct proposal system.

While Oman has no industrial-scale capacity, last year the Rural Areas Electricity Company (Raeco) and Masdar issued tenders for a 50MW project at Haweel, slated for commissioning in 2017.

Work stops in Libya and Saudi Arabia

Unsurprisingly, work on Libya's 61MW Al Fatayeh project has come to a halt. El Sewedy, whose subsidiary MTOI is building and equipping the plant, does not even know if the turbines delivered to the site are still there.

The news is not good from Saudi Arabia either, although for different reasons. In January, a government reshuffle removed the council of the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care), charged with deploying 9GW of wind in 2032. What happens next remains to be seen.

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