GCC Solar Energy: Turning plans into reality
by Jaap Kalkman, Sameer Anees, Adnan Merhaba, Samrat Bose
How to renew the lost momentum?

The potential for solar energy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is indisputable. Underpinned by the acute need to find alternative energy sources to reduce the opportunity cost of burning fossil-fuels, as well as the requirements to drive economic development, employment and technology intensive industries, the “solar industry” is no longer a sector this region can afford to ignore and not develop. Acknowledging this, the region has announced ambitious plans to exploit the solar-energy opportunities in the last half-decade. However, these ambitions have not yet been realized into action. Despite the announcements in the past to kick-start the sector, actual deployment is still at its nascent stage, and the share of the GCC’s solar-energy capacity remains paltry (only < 0.5% of the installed generation capacity in the GCC in 2014). Saudi Arabia’s conspicuous absence in this sector, despite the country’s high potential, is particularly noteworthy. In this article, we provide a report on the GCC’s progress, identify root causes of the delayed deployment and suggest steps to turn the ambition into reality.