The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are prioritizing investments in the power sector and need to invest $302 billion over the next 5 years to feed the rapidly rising demand for electricity, according to a recent industry report.
Of this, $179 billion will be needed to add 138GW of generating capacity, while the rest should be invested in transmission and distribution (T&D), said the APICORP Energy Research for the period 2017-2021.
To meet the rising demand, MENA power capacity will need to expand by an average of 7.4% each year between 2017 and 2021, which corresponds to an additional capacity of 138GW. This would require $179 billion of investment in the generation capacity and a further $123 billion for T&D.
''Governments have been accelerating their investment plans and our estimates show that 97GW of capacity additions are already in the execution stage,'' it added.
In the GCC, governments have coped well with the rising demand for electricity. Besides adding to the capacity, some countries have also recently increased electricity prices and introduced some limited power sector reforms, according to the report, entitled 'MENA Power Investment: Finance and Reform Challenges Persist'.
The GCC represents 43%, or 157GW, of current MENA power generating capacity. Despite this large capacity, the GCC will require $81 billion for the addition of 62GW of generating capacity and another $50 billion for T&D over the next 5 years. However, declining oil revenues and large budget deficits mean that GCC governments can no longer continue to support the provision of cheap power. Subsidy reforms announced in late 2015 are part of a program that aims to liberalize domestic energy prices over the medium term.
The region is also placing greater emphasis on renewable energy. The UAE recently announced a nationwide power strategy which aims to have 50% clean energy by 2050. Solar power features heavily in its plans and is expected to account for 25% of the generation mix once a $13.7 billion (5GW) solar park is fully commissioned in 2030.
Saudi Arabia also recently unveiled its latest renewable-energy initiatives. The program will aim to develop 10GW of solar and wind energy by 2023.
According to the report, the UAE needs to invest at least $35 billion to meet the 17GW capacity addition needed over the medium term. “The UAE is pushing strongly to diversify its energy sources in the power mix; we estimate that 10.4GW of capacity additions are already in execution. Much of the power is generated using natural gas, but Abu Dhabi’s Barakah nuclear-power plant will see four reactors come online between 2017 and 2020, contributing 5.6GW in total,” the report read.
The monthly analysis stated that electricity demand in the MENA region has been growing rapidly, driven by population growth and urbanization, rising income levels, industrialization, and low electricity prices.
Looking ahead, it noted, these factors will continue to place greater demand on the electricity-generation capacities. MENA economic growth has slowed compared with the historical highs, but the International Monetary Fund still expects an increase of 3.2% in 2017, rising to 3.6% in 2021. The region’s population is also expected to grow at an average rate of 2% per year in that period.
In the Mashreq region comprising Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, inadequate investments and instability have weighed on the power sector and persistent blackouts continue to put pressure on governments to act, while in the Maghreb region which consists of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian territories, renewable-energy projects are at the forefront of long-term government plans to diversify power-generation capacity and reduce fuel import bills. But investment in the power sector will continue to be a challenge due to finance constraints and tight government budgets.
APICORP Energy Research