Recent “massive growth” in MENA renewable energy is set to snowball in the next few years, according to Abu Dhabi’s International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). The agency’s 3 June MENA Renewables Report says regional investment topped $2.9bn in 2012, up 40% from 2011. “With over 100 projects under development,” said Irena, “the region could see a 450% increase in non-hydro renewable energy generating capacity in the next few years.” MENA governments have announced additional non-hydro renewable energy capacity of 50gw by 2020 and 107gw by 2030, Irena says. With total MENA renewables capacity currently amounting to almost 20gw (see table), the agency says a total 106 projects in the pipeline are expected to add 7.5gw of new capacity, including 2.35gw of solar, 4.74gw of wind, 223mw of biomass and waste, 105mw of geothermal, 32mw of small hydro and 60mw of marine power.

Hydro dwarves other renewable power source with 17.7gw capacity: Iran and Egypt are the leaders, with 9.5gw and 2.8gw respectively. Hydro capacity increased by 9% a year during 2008-11, led mainly by Iran and Iraq, which together generated over 16.9 terawatt-hours in 2011 – more than 46% of all MENA hydropower output. But the region’s hydropower potential is already well exploited, leaving limited room for further growth, Irena says. (CONTINUED - 364 WORDS)