The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has some of the world’s best solar energy resources. Compared to the rest of the world, MENA’s solar resources have great potential for concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) because the technology uses both light and heat from the sun. Heat from MENA’s abundant sunshine has much greater comparative advantage than just the light. The technology to store heat improves with every project and the costs come down, meaning that soon CSP may be able to provide inexpensive solar energy all day, every day throughout the year.
Why do the Clean Technology Fund and the World Bank Group support CSP in MENA?
The abundance of sunshine and heat in MENA mean that each dollar invested in CSP megawatts will generate more energy than in other regions. Global costs of CSP will come down faster if CSP is deployed at scale in MENA. Both the region and the entire world stand to benefit.
What is standing in the way of the development of CSP in MENA?
Information about CSP’s advantages as a firm, ‘dispatchable’ power and secure energy source is still limited. To make informed decisions, policymakers and industry leaders need more awareness on the ways CSP could fit into long-term power sector plans and grid integration approaches, as well as about the optimal generation procurement processes and the availability of concessional financing. CSP also has the potential to promote local skills development and local manufacturing for CSP components.
The Knowledge and Innovation Program
To help accelerate the development of CSP in MENA, the Clean Technology Fund and the World Bank have launched the MENA CSP Knowledge and Innovation Program. The three-year Knowledge and Innovation Program is designed primarily as a resources to address uncertainties, link projects with sources of finance and technical advice, and promote innovation to enable CSP investments in MENA to move forward faster, and in more countries. The knowledge generated in MENA could also facilitate CSP investments elsewhere in the world, creating a virtuous circle of CSP investments and cost reductions through economies of scale and learning.
The key activities to be rolled out in 2017 under the program are:
- Just-in-Time Assistance
The Just-in-Time facility, administered primarily through a multilingual web-based platform, will connect demands for expertise (e.g. questions needing rapid answers, support for designing bidding documents and other aspects of project development) with experts who can respond.
- Web-based Knowledge Exchange
This activity will include newsletters and a web-based platform. Newsletters etc. will be used to disseminate information about the about the Knowledge and Innovation Program itself. A web-based platform will be created to link project sponsors, governments, financiers, investors, and technology and service providers to help development of CSP projects and related industries/services. It will serve mainly as centralized platform to guide counterparts to the right sources of information, and will be offered in English, French, and Arabic.
- Small Grants Program
The small grants program will support a selected set of activities that stimulate CSP project development, local impact, and innovation in eligible MENA countries.
- Face-to-Face Knowledge Exchange and Cooperation
This activity will bring together decision makers and stakeholders for knowledge exchange events to distill lessons from the MENA CSP experience, to draw on lessons from the rest of the world, and to foster the ties necessary for development of investment projects.
- Capacity Building and Training
This activity will provide training on CSP-related topics, and support the development of training from national facilities. It will include training programs and adapted courses, following a knowledge assessment of the participating countries.