Deloitte estimates solar retrofits 'quite a while' away in the Mideast

It is often easier to rebuild major solar energy projects than it is to retrofit them, said Monitor Deloitte, Middle East's Bart Cornelissen

Regional powers Saudi Arabia and UAE are leading solar energy investment in the Middle East.
Regional powers Saudi Arabia and UAE are leading solar energy investment in the Middle East.

The retrofitting of major solar energy projects remains a far-off prospect given the relative infancy of the market in the region, despite notable solar projects having been announced over the past 12 months.

“Retrofitting [acceptance] will depend on the cost forecasts,” Bart Cornelissen, managing partner of Monitor Deloitte, Middle East, told Construction Week.

“But it will be quite a while before we start to see retrofitting on the solar projects here in the region – definitely not within the next three years.”

Instead, the energy expert said between five to 10 years was a more realistic time frame to expect such activity.

“When the time comes to relook at the economics of the farms, the conversation will then be had about whether it is easier to retrofit or rebuild.”

READ:  Deloitte: 'Lessons in Europe for Saudi's $200bn solar park'

His comments come amid a hive of activity in the region's solar energy sector as countries look to strengthen and build on their renewable capacity, moving away from traditional fossil fuel-centric energy capability.

The capacity of Saudi Arabia’s Solar Power Project 2030, for example, is expected to exceed 200GW by 2030, making it the Middle East's, and the world's, largest solar park.

“There are contractors across the world who are capable of retrofitting renewable large energy infrastructure like solar farms,” Cornelissen added. “So if there if there was demand from the region for that, it will come.

“From an energy perspective, demand for this type of retrofitting hasn’t changed in the past years. This is because the region is very late to the game and the infrastructure is still relatively new in general.”

LISTEN: Construction Week Viewpoint – Solar energy projects

With this in mind however, solar farms have specific infrastructure that is often easier and cheaper to rebuild.

Cornelissen added: “In Europe, this is politically often very sensitive, because decommissioning renewable infrastructure seems very counter-intuitive, but maintenance could be too high or there could be out-dated technology and sub-scale assets.”  

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