While much of the region’s conventional energy programmes have stalled as a consequence of the drop in oil prices, governments across the Middle East and North Africa region are making progress with renewable energy projects.

From the economic powerhouse of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian territories, clients are initiating the procurement of renewables schemes.

After a stuttering start, Saudi Arabia is preparing to issue tenders for its first major standalone solar projects, having finalised the prequalification process pretty much on schedule. While Riyadh failed to deliver on its much-feted renewables programme when it was first launched, the kingdom is finally starting to move ahead with initial schemes as it seeks to transform its economy and overhaul its energy sector.

After receiving world-record tariff prices for its 800MW photovoltaic (PV) solar project earlier this year, Dubai has invited companies to express interest in the first 200MW of its ambitious concentrated solar power (CSP) programme. After structuring some of the largest PV projects in the region, the emirate is seeking to develop its potential for renewable storage capabilities with the 1GW CSP programme.

Dubai is also waiting to receive proposals for the GCC’s first major waste-to-energy scheme.

The invitation for firms to express interest in the first utility-scale solar projects in the Palestinian territories shows that clients are aware of the important contribution renewable energy can make to relieve the energy crisis in less resource-rich countries. The appointment of Belgium’s Tractebel as technical consultant shows international firms stand to benefit from renewables opportunities across markets that would not previously been regarded as a priority.

While much of the region’s renewables plans are still at a very nascent stage, it is clear the fall in hydrocarbons prices has not dissuaded progress with alternative energy schemes. Conversely, the uncertainty over traditional fossil fuels may have spurred them on.