Middle Eastern regions have been famous for their large oil and gas reserves for as long as anyone can remember. Though the region’s solar resources are also plentiful, when it comes to renewable energy, developments in the Middle East have been relatively sluggish. In recent years, as PV prices have dropped and the pressure of relying on a single source of energy has grown, these countries have begun looking beyond their oil and natural gas reserves and have established development goals for renewable energy. At the same time, opportunities for energy storage combined with renewable energy have begun to appear. Beginning in 2017, Middle Eastern countries including Jordan and Saudi Arabia have begun deploying energy storage projects.
Saudi Arabia Combines Energy Storage with Renewable Energy to Cast Off Reliance on Oil
In the past, Saudi Arabia was once the world’s top oil producer. Yet with domestic energy demands increasing, so has the pressure on oil supplies, making development of renewable energy a necessity. Saudi Arabia has previously announced plans for a 100% transformation from fossil fuels to clean energy within the next few decades. According to CNESA data tracking, Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program managed by the country’s Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources has announced a goal of 3.4GW of renewable energy capacity by 2020, with an additional goal of 9.5GW of renewable energy infrastructure set for 2023. In 2017, SoftBank Vision Fund and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum focused on the development of solar-plus-storage. The memo declares a goal of 3GW of solar-plus-storage projects by 2018, which will contribute to the long-term development of renewable energy Saudi Arabia. In March 2018, SoftBank announced plans to construct the world’s largest solar plant in Saudi Arabia. The plant is intended to contribute to the “Vision2030” plan. Such measures will help alleviate Saudi Arabia’s domestic dependence on oil.
Jordan Harnesses Renewable Energy and Energy Storage to Realize Energy Independence
In contrast to the abundant oil and gas resources of Saudi Arabia, Jordan possesses no oil reserves. Energy shortages have led to overreliance on diesel imports. To avoid reliance on traditional fossil fuels, the demand for development of renewable energy applications has become strong. In 2017, Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources selected 23 out of 41 bidders as candidates for the 2018 signing of a memorandum planning for a 30MW energy storage project. The project’s total investment is set at approximately 4 million USD, with an anticipated completion date of mid-2019. The project is intended to alleviate fluctuations to the grid caused by large scale wind and solar generation, stabilizing transmission and distribution networks.
Jordan’s solar energy provider Philadelphia Solar has also announced plans to launch a battery storage system at a large-scale solar generation plant in the Mid-East region. In early August of 2017, Philadelphia Solar subsidy Al Badiya signed a 20-year PPA with Irbid District Electricity Company. At present, this is the largest energy storage power station project in the Middle East. Construction is expected to be completed and commercial operations to begin in the 4th quarter of 2018. The project will consist of 34,350 polycrystalline panels and a 12MWh Li-ion battery energy storage system.
At present, governments in the Middle East are actively pushing for the development and utilization of renewables, with many establishing renewable energy development goals. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other countries in the region have all deployed energy storage systems. In the future, as renewable energy continues to grow in scale, demand for energy storage as a method of stabilizing wind and solar generation in the grid will increase. As the use of clean, natural energy sources in the Middle East becomes more prevalent, the region will increase its energy independence while at the same time decreasing consumption of traditional fossil fuels.