Middle East and North Africa Eye 1,400 GW Offshore Wind Potential Amid Investment Challenges

An analysis by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has underscored the significant investment required to unlock the vast offshore wind energy potential of 1,400 gigawatts (GW) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. According to GWEC's latest report, countries like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, and Oman are poised to lead in developing offshore wind despite the sector's early stage, predominantly linked to oil and gas activities in the region.

Offshore wind is increasingly recognized as pivotal in the transition to sustainable energy, offering environmental benefits by generating without fuel consumption or emissions. The region's offshore locations also promise stronger, more consistent winds compared to onshore sites, ensuring reliable energy production.

“The significant potential of offshore wind indicates that there may (and should) be development in the Middle East. However, this depends greatly on the investment environment, national regulations, and permitting procedures,” GWEC's report stated.

While acknowledging the MENA region's historical focus on onshore energy, GWEC noted shifting trends driven by efforts to diversify energy sources and explore subsea interconnections with Europe. These initiatives, alongside potential exports of green energy products, may prompt MENA countries to reconsider their stance on offshore wind development.

Saudi Arabia, with an estimated offshore capacity of 106 GW along its coasts, is intensifying its renewable energy efforts. The kingdom aims to achieve 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2060, bolstered by initiatives such as green projects and plans for clean energy exports.

Similarly, Morocco, heavily reliant on energy imports, is advancing renewable energy targets, aiming for 51% of its energy from green sources by the end of the decade. The country recently secured a $2 billion grant from the European Investment Bank to explore offshore wind feasibility, highlighting its commitment to expanding renewable energy capacity.

Globally, the offshore wind sector has seen substantial growth, connecting 10.8 GW to the in 2023 and marking a 24% increase year-on-year, with significant contributions from and Europe. Looking ahead, GWEC forecasts continued robust growth, with expectations of adding at least 410 GW of new offshore wind capacity between 2024 and 2033.

As countries worldwide, including those in MENA, position themselves in the expanding offshore wind market, the path forward will depend on overcoming financial barriers and establishing conducive regulatory frameworks. The GWEC report emphasizes that successful navigation of these challenges will be crucial in realizing the offshore wind potential and driving sustainable energy transitions in the Middle East and North Africa.

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