Dubai’s Alcazar Energy, backed by Mubadala Investment Company, is bullish on the growth of the renewables sector in the Middle East and North Africa as demand for clean energy accelerates amid concerns about climate change.
“Necessity for affordable energy in these emerging markets is of very large magnitude," Daniel Calderon, co-founder and chief executive of Alcazar Energy, said. "That is the exciting part of renewable energy. What we have seen in the last seven years is very small fraction of what we hopefully ... stand to see in the next ten years.”
Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, which depend on energy imports to meet up to 90 per cent of their requirements, are opting to generate energy through solar to plug demand and lower their spending. The kingdom has launched a number of renewable rounds to tap the private sector in building clean energy capacity.
Energy exporters in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also switching from gas, and are looking to add more renewable capacity to meet power needs.
Dubai aims to generate 25 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050 as part of its clean energy drive. Abu Dhabi, the hydrocarbons centre of the UAE, is looking to generate half of its power requirements from clean sources by 2030.
The UAE capital is building a massive 2 Gigawatt solar power scheme in Al Dhafra, which was awarded to a consortium led by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), Masdar, EDF and Jinko Solar in July.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is pursuing an ambitious renewable power strategy and plans to add 60 gigawatts of clean energy capacity to the national grid by 2030. Of this, 40 gigawatts will come from solar photovoltaic plants, 16 gigawatts from wind turbines and 2.7 gigawatts from concentrated solar power,
“When you look at the Mena region ... [it] needs quarter of a trillion dollars [in investment] during the next ten years alone to be able to meet the requirement that it has in the renewable energy,” Mr Calderon said.
Alcazar Energy operates seven renewable projects in the region with an investment of over $700 million. It recently started the commercial operations of its wind farm in Jordan, which is jointly financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector and the Europe Arab Bank.
Despite rapid development of renewable projects in the region, the investment is still very low in the sector, Mr Calderon said.
“Jordan now has 16 per cent of power being produced from renewable energy sources. Similarly Egypt was only starting seven years ago and today it has the largest solar complex in the world. All that progress so far is only single digit billion dollars of investment,” he said.
The company is currently considering raising up to $700m through a green bond or selling some of its assets to global infrastructure investors to refinance its debt and fuel its expansion. Mr Calderon, however, did not provide details on when the company plans to issue a bond or sell its assets.
“We have been talking to typical bond investors. There is quite an interest for people to come and invest because of the better status Egypt and Jordan have for international investors. That’s one opportunity in front of us we are considering,” he said.
Alcazar is also seeing interest from global infrastructure funds in investing in the renewable energy space in the Middle East. Global funds have so far largely poured capital into built hydrocarbons assets in the Middle East.
“As part of an exercise, we have also received approaches from equity investors," Mr Calderon said. "These are long term infrastructure investors who typically go into large energy companies in Europe or North America and don’t invest in renewable energy investments in Egypt or Jordan or North Africa and it is exciting that we were able to bring investors.”
He added that the interest shown by these investors in these countries "is a testament to how far Jordan and Egypt have come in the international space”.
In addition to Mubadala Investment Company, Alcazar's shareholders include Blu Stone Management, Dash Ventures International and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and IFC Asset Management Company.