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New agri-solar park connects to Spanish grid, while solar energy is forecast to hit record level in Middle East by mid-century

BayWa r.e. has commissioned its first agri-PV solar park in Spain. Featuring multiple biodiversity initiatives, the solar farm is supporting sustainable agriculture while generating renewable electricity. Meanwhile, in other solar news, the Middle East is projected to surpass 100 GW of solar capacity by 2030, according to new analysis by Rystad Energy.
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The newly commissioned 54 MWp photovoltaic (PV) park in Alhendín, near Granada, integrates renewable electricity production and agriculture, and is providing power to the Danish roof window manufacturer Velux Group under a power purchase agreement signed in late 2022. A second solar park in Gerena, close to Seville, also financed under the PPA, awaits local regulatory approval and is scheduled to be completed in 2025. It is expected to have a capacity of about 60 MWp.


About 10% of the Alhendín solar park is designed to allow farming machinery to pass between the solar panels, supporting sustainable agriculture. It is the first project of its kind for BayWa r.e. in Spain.


The solar park includes multiple biodiversity initiatives, including baseline studies, digitalisation and monitoring of vegetation; grass planting with natural seeds and wildflower species; wildlife refuges, ponds for amphibians, bird drinking tanks, nest boxes and posts; and a hatching area to protect the endangered Lesser Kestrel bird species.


Middle East projected to surpass 100 GW of solar capacity by 2030
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, solar PV is expected to account for more than half of the region’s power supply by mid-century, up from 2% last year, according to the latest analysis from Rystad Energy. By 2050, renewable energy sources, including hydro, solar and wind, are expected to constitute 70% of the Middle East’s power generation mix, marking a monumental leap from the mere 5% recorded at the end of 2023 and signalling a transformative shift in the region’s energy landscape.


Solar energy is becoming increasingly important in the energy policies of Middle Eastern countries. As the cheapest energy source, solar PV in Saudi Arabia is at a world record-low levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) – an economic metric to assess and compare lifetime costs of generating power across different energy sources – of $10.4/MWh. This is due to factors such as low hurdle rates, large-scale projects, declining hardware prices, low labour costs and high solar irradiance.


The total solar capacity in the Middle East at the end of 2023 exceeded 16 GW and is expected to approach 23 GW by the end of 2024. Rystad projections indicate that by 2030, the capacity will surpass 100 GW, with green hydrogen projects contributing to an annual growth rate of 30%. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Israel are on track to account collectively for nearly two-thirds of the region’s total solar capacity by the end of the decade.


Saudi Arabia’s Sudair solar project, which boasts 1.5 GW of capacity, is now fully operational, raising the country’s total installed solar capacity to more than 2.7 GW. Saudi Arabia is targeting more than 58 GW of capacity by 2030, demonstrating its commitment to boosting renewable energy power generation to its goal of 50% by 2030, up from 2% currently. However, announced solar projects only account for about 13 GW, with ongoing auctions adding an additional 5.5 GW, leaving a gap of more than 18 GW, notes Rystad.


The UAE has also publicly committed to transitioning to clean energy, focusing on building out solar PV to raise its capacity from 6 GW today to 14 GW by 2030. The country is aiming for 44% renewables in its power mix by 2050, up from 6% today. The MBR Solar Park is a landmark project, aiming to achieve a 5 GW alternating current (GWac) capacity by 2030, with investment of about $14bn.


However, despite the coming surge of clean energy installations, the Middle East region will continue to rely heavily on natural gas in the short term, and usage will continue to grow until it peaks around 2030, says Rystad. The share of gas in the power generation mix is anticipated to shrink from 74% at the end of 2023 to 46% in 2040 and 22% by 2050.