By Jeff Siegel
In Dubai, solar is now cheaper than oil at $10 a barrel.
Yes, you read that correctly.
As reported by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi:
Dubai set a new global benchmark in December 2014: at 5.84 US cents per kW hour, the bid for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s 200 MW solar PV plant was cheaper than oil at US$10/barrel and gas at US$5/MMBtu.
You see, while oil in the U.S. is used primarily as a transportation fuel, in the oil-rich Middle East, the shiny black stuff is used to generate electricity. In fact, in Saudi Arabia, oil accounts for more than 65% of all electricity production. In Kuwait, it’s as high as 71%, and in Yemen, it’s nearly 100%.
Oh, to be a fly on the mud-brick wall when the proverbial poop hits the fan.
Meanwhile, consider this…
In the absence of Saudi Arabia’s own domestic oil consumption, the desert kingdom could have generated an extra $43.8 billion in 2013.
With that kind of scratch in play, it’s not surprising that the smart money is piling into a burgeoning solar industry in the Middle East.
Grid Parity for All!
In a new report written for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, researchers have found that renewable energy technologies are fast approaching grid parity in most parts of the world.
And this was no Greenpeace report, either. This thing was actually produced primarily for the finance community in the Gulf region.
Here are some of its findings…
- More than 50% of investment in new generation capacity worldwide is now in renewables.
- $260 billion a year has been invested in renewable energy technologies worldwide for the past five years.
- Green bond issues to pay for low-carbon energy projects reached $36.6 billion in 2014, more than triple the previous year.
- Prices for solar PV modules have fallen over 80% since 2008.
- Solar PV will be at grid parity in 80% of countries in the next two years.
- Solar PV is already cheaper than grid electricity in 42 of the 50 largest U.S. cities.
- Industrial applications of energy efficiency can deliver 100% payback in five years.
- Modern wind turbines produce 15 times more electricity than the typical wind turbine in 1990.
- The cost of energy storage is expected to drop to $100 per kWh in the next five years. Today it’s about $250.
These data points are music to the ears of Middle East kings, presidents, and prime ministers. After all, in the Gulf region, oil is the lifeblood of many economies. And make no mistake the cheap oil party going on right now won’t last forever.
Truth is, in the Middle East, there is no greater choice for new electricity generation than solar. You know, because it’s a freaking desert!
While I remain bullish on solar in the U.S., I’m becoming more and more attracted to the opportunities that could soon be spawned throughout the Middle East. In fact, I’m planning a research junket to the region sometime this year to get a firsthand look at what could soon be one of the most lucrative solar markets on the planet.
In the meantime, keep a close eye on the solar and solar-related companies that are actively investing in the region right now. These include, but are not limited to:
- ABB (NYSE: ABB)
- SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR)
- First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR)
- Schneider Electric (OTC: SBGSY)
- SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE)
- Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL)
This list will continue to grow, too.
Because while the Saudis and the U.S. play their game of chicken, behind the backdrop of all this nonsense and rhetoric, a strong and vibrant solar market is quietly integrating itself into a fossil fuel-addicted world. And it’s doing so profitably.
To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth…
Jeff Siegel is Editor of Energy and Capital, where this article was first published.