Canadian Solar Inc., a panel producer generating almost 90 percent of its revenue from Europe and the Americas, is interested in expanding in the Middle East amid a $109 billion plan by Saudi Arabia to develop renewable capacity.
“Last year we made a significant sale into Abu Dhabi so I am quite interested in the Middle Eastern market,” Chief Executive Officer Shawn Qu said in an interview. “People in the Middle East realize that if they use all their oil and gas to produce electricity then they actually lose. The best way is to install solar so that they can export more oil.”
Saudi Arabia is seeking investors for its plan to create a solar industry generating a third of its electricity by 2032. The largest crude-oil exporter plans 41,000 megawatts of solar capacity in 20 years, said Maher al-Oda from the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. At the same time Germany, the largest solar market, is cutting industry subsidies.
“There’s more demand and more requests from the Middle East,” Qu said. “More people in that region realize that gives them a better economy.” His Ontario-based company already has some sales in Saudi Arabia and supplies modules to Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Arabia has about 3 megawatts of solar installations, trailing Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“As the Middle East evolves their regulatory frameworks for solar, there’s really a bottomless resource to exploit,” Hannes Reinisch, senior manager of energy, utilities and mining at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said by phone. Saudi Arabia has the biggest power market in the region with growth in demand of more than 8 percent a year, Reinisch said.
Canadian Solar got 88 percent of first-quarter sales from the Americas and Europe, according to data Bloomberg compiled.
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