Middle East and African installations slow in 2019

Wind power installations slowed in Africa and the Middle East last year, according to Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) figures, but the industry body expects faster growth in the next five years.

Saudi Aramco commissioned Saudi Arabia's first wind turbine (above) in 2019. The kingdom is due to add a further 1.2GW by the end of 2024
Saudi Aramco commissioned Saudi Arabia's first wind turbine (above) in 2019. The kingdom is due to add a further 1.2GW by the end of 2024

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In total, 894MW was added in the region last year — down 7% from 2018, according to GWEC.

However, it anticipates more than 10.7GW will be added between 2020 and 2024, with tendered projects being connected to the grid.

The region still faces challenges such as inadequate policy and power market frameworks, transmission infrastructure bottlenecks and off-taker risk, GWEC stated.

New capacity was added in Egypt (262MW), Morocco (216MW), Jordan (190MW), Ethiopia (120MW) and Iran (50MW) last year, bringing total capacity to more than 6GW in the region.

The 894MW added in 2019 was down from the 962MW installed the previous year, GWEC noted.

After last year’s slowdown, it expects installations to ramp up in the next five years, with an additional 10,732MW to be commissioned by the end of 2024.

The majority of these additions are anticipated in just four countries: South Africa (3.3GW), Egypt (1.8GW), Morocco (1.2GW) and Saudi Arabia (1.2GW), all of which have tendered capacity in recent years.

GWEC expects a steady increase in installations in the next three years — 1,218MW in 2020, 1,364MW in 2021 and 1,624MW in 2022 — before a sudden increase in 2023 (2,970MW) and 2024 (3,303MW), in line with auction and allocation plans across the region.

Despite the acceleration of installations, GWEC believes growth could be more widespread with more friendly market and regulatory conditions.

The chair of GWEC’s Africa task force Jon Lezamiz pointed out that local supply chains are already being developed in countries with proper frameworks and stable bankable pipelines.

For example, Siemens Gamesa has a blade factory in Morocco, where 850MW was tendered in 2016 and is targetting to have around 4.2GW of wind power by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

“We see many exciting developments in the region including construction starting on hybrid renewable projects, increases in regional cooperation and opening of markets to corporate PPAs, all of which we are convinced will drive growth in the coming years.

“However, unlocking the full potential of the wind sector has not yet been encompassed and electricity demand continues to grow, Lezamiz added.

Last year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a nine-fold growth in installed capacity in Africa — to 53GW by 2040 — but warned that governments needed to address issues such as the continent’s small power markets and unreliable grids.

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