The solar power market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is now worth $20 billion, with projects valued at $5 billion now up and running, according to new research.

The 2019 Solar Outlook Report said another $15 billion of projects are set to come online in the region in next five years.

It said prices for solar technology continues to fall in the MENA region, at around 50 percent cheaper than the natural gas-based price for electricity.

It is expected that in the next three years the price for solar will reach 1 US cent/kWh which would make it among the cheapest in the world, it added.

Prices for concentrated solar power technology continues to fall in the MENA region, at around 50 percent cheaper than the natural gas-based price for electricity.

The report – by MESIA, the largest solar trade association in MENA – said new markets are opening up for solar investments across the region.

Saudi Arabia started construction on its first utility scale PV project and is on track to award 58,000 MW of solar power by 2030, making it one of the top five solar markets in the world while Jordan and Lebanon are also in the process of awarding some of the first utility scale storage tenders in the region. Algeria, Tunisia and Oman are also launching major solar projects.

“We are thrilled to see how rapidly solar energy has grown towards becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. The pace of change has been incredible over the past 10 years. And the future for solar continues to shine brightly,” said Vahid Fotuhi, founder of MESIA.

He said energy storage solutions are also becoming more competitive as the costs of PV panel prices, battery storage systems and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies continue to decline.

«Unsubsidized energy storage solutions are now cost competitive with those offered by fossil fuel power plants. We expect that, as prices continue to fall the battery storage market in the region will grow rapidly and make solar power a 24 hour/day energy solution,» he added.

The solar rooftop segment will continue to grow particularly in the commercial and industrial space as new financing options emerge and the regulations get implemented, the report noted.