Solar energy is set to emerge as one of the Gulf region’s main sources of energy by 2017 with approximately 155 billion worth of solar power installation projects to generate more than 84GW of power.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia will be leading the region in promoting renewable energy and reducing their carbon footprints. Abu Dhabi has set a goal of generating seven per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Masdar, the state-owned renewable energy company, has announced that it will invest up to Dh6 billion in alternative energy schemes alongside the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB).

The Saudi government hopes to double its installed electricity capacity by building 54GW of renewable energy (as well as 17.6GW of nuclear power) by 2032, of which 41GW will obtained from the sun.

Moreover, Qatar is also turning to renewables, with a plan to get 10 per cent of the electricity and energy used in water desalination from solar energy by 2018. Kuwait too has ambitions to derive 10 per cent of its power requirements from renewable energy sources by 2020.

"It is apparent that whilst the solar industry in other areas is struggling, right across the Middle East and North Africa, the opportunities are there for companies to get themselves involved with a wealth of opportunities that are presenting themselves. Right now, nothing is hotter for solar than the Middle East," said Derek Burston, exhibition manager of new expo, GulfSol 2013.

The inaugural GulfSol 2013 exhibition will be held from September 3 to September 5, 2013 at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre. The three-day event will be held alongside the fifth edition of the popular Gulf Glass 2013 exhibition, the only specialized regional event dealing with the region’s thriving glass industry. The event is expected to be attended by more than 5,000 participants from the region and around the world.

"To meet the goals that the GCC have set themselves means expertise will be needed from the international solar power industry to deal with the difficulties involved in construction in desert terrain, including dust, high winds and transmission requirements," he added.

Some of the main challenges related to the deployment of energy projects in a desert terrain will be addressed at the industry summit later this year. The summit will feature discussions on the feasibility of solar power projects in remote areas, the wide range of unrealised opportunities in the region for international companies and enforceable regulatory and policy frameworks for the implementation of solar projects.