Empowering Solar Development in the GCC region

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New Solar GCC Alliance to Launch during the World Future Energy Summit 2014.

Riyadh, 17 January 2014 – The GCC region has some of the most energy-advantaged countries in the world. While each of these nations shares a vast potential for solar power, each has its own unique solar business model and cultural identity. Oman, for example, has employed solar-enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology to reduce the amount of natural gas it burns in EOR operations, while Qatar aims to use polysilicon for solar panels to power air-con systems at the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is preparing for its large scale power programme that is targeting CSP and PV, and Kuwait is engaged with a multi-technology renewable energy park. Finally, in the UAE, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are finalizing plans to build two new PV plants, while Ras Al Khaimah, plans to build the world’s largest solar-powered seawater desalination plant.

Besides experimenting with different technologies, GCC-member states differ in the amount of solar radiation that they receive and in their populations and sizes. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is four times the size of Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE combined. Recognizing that each GCC country has its unique energy situation, Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA) has established the Solar GCC Alliance to represent the solar industries of the six GCC nations.

“The Solar GCC Alliance exists to encourage each of its affiliate countries to pursue independent solar development, while simultaneously providing an infrastructure for international collaboration,” said Browning Rockwell, founder of SASIA.

The Alliance will be formally launched during the World Future Energy Summit 2014, which will take place from 20 to 22 January at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in the UAE. As a private-sector, industry-driven initiative, the Solar GCC Alliance will provide a platform for the solar power industries of Saudi Arabia, the UAE Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman to collaborate and grow their businesses.

Under the umbrella of Solar GCC Alliance (www.solargcc.com), which will be the landing page, each of the six GCC country pages will have their own domains, or affiliate sites. Future additions include Jordan and Morocco, given the rapid solar power developments that the two nations witnessed in recent years.

“We encourage businesses, governments, utilities, and academic institutions in affiliate nations and the international community to join us in our efforts to make the solar potential of the MENA region a reality,” Rockwell commented.

Developing local capabilities
In line with its mission to empower solar development and collaboration in the region, the Solar GCC Alliance is also launching the Young Solar Champions Professional Scholarship program.

Founded by SASIA and delivered by the Renewables Academy (RENAC) AG in Berlin, one of Germany’s leading educational specialists for renewable energies, the program will identify high-potential GCC nationals for advanced management training in the solar industry, to help build a network of solar professionals from the ground up.

“With staff localization requirements emerging throughout the GCC and with the solar market continuously growing, identifying and training local management staff is becoming essential. Every country has a solid workforce that could be trained in this program,” Rockwell noted.

“Government ministries that are leading the national renewable power programs want talented people who are tuned in with what’s happening in the business side of solar. And while there are many research and development activities taking place, the real challenge is on the commercial side,” he added.

The industry-sponsored scholarship program will partner with multinational companies in the solar industry to train middle to senior managers on managing and financing PV projects and understanding the commercial aspects of solar power.

“The Young Solar Scholarship program will target exactly those early decision-makers and managers who will then have the knowledge to further trigger the development of the solar energy sector in their countries,” explained Berthold Breid, CEO of RENAC.

From project origination to commissioning, the intensive four-day course combines seminars, networking, and site visits to train candidates on how to manage medium to large-scale PV projects, guiding them on the costs and economics of solar PV technologies in the MENA region. When they return to their respective countries, they will have learnt from the best practices in the world.

On the first day of the WFES 2014, on January 20, Solar GCC Alliance and SASIA, in collaboration with EuPD research, are organizing The Path to Solar Wealth in the GCC – Effective Brand Building.

During this VIP networking and dinner reception, which is sponsored by Baker Botts and SkyPower FAS Energy, companies can represent themselves to approximately 50 C-level decision makers from the local and international solar landscape seeking to establish a foothold in the GCC markets.

About Saudi Solar Industry Association

Abundant solar potential gives the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) a unique opportunity to become one of the most energy-advantaged countries in the world. The Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA) is a non-governmental association that strives to make this vision a reality by helping Saudi Arabia and the Middle East realize the full economic and environmental potential of solar energy. The goal is to bring the national and regional solar industry together, transforming the vast solar potential of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East into a commercially- and environmentally-viable solution for our growing demand for electricity.

About Solar GCC Alliance

Solar GCC Alliance exists to encourage each of its affiliate countries to pursue independent solar development, while simultaneously providing an infrastructure for international collaboration. Founded by the Saudi Solar Industry Association, Solar GCC Alliance is a private-sector, industry-driven entity that promotes the development of local talents and capabilities across the GCC nations.

The Renewables Academy AG (RENAC), based in Berlin, Germany, is one of the leading international providers for renewable energy training and energy efficiency education. Since their establishment in January 2008, over 3,300 participants from over 130 nations worldwide have benefited from their expertise in the technology, financing, management and market development of alternative energy.

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