The Middle East and Steel: The Future of Solar is Local

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park featuring Nextracker's Award-Winning NX Horizon Solar Tracker

Need another proof point that solar is rapidly expanding its global presence? Then look no further than the world’s largest oil exporter. At last year’s United Nations climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia set an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2060, known as The Saudi Green Initiative.

The Kingdom has the 6th greatest solar energy capacity in the world, and it’s counting on solar panels to deliver nearly 70% of its clean energy capacity. The Initiative’s project pipeline represents SR60 billion ($15.9 billion).

As the world’s leading provider of solar tracking technology and software, Nextracker has seen this potential up close. And as Nextracker’s new VP of Sales for the Middle East Region (MENA), I’m excited to announce that we’re formalizing our presence with a new MENA office in Dubai and deepening our ties in the region with local partnerships.

New partnerships to invest in Saudi steel  

As part of our commitment to accelerate renewable growth in the region, we partnered with Saudi-based steel companies to develop new production lines dedicated to the specialized requirements in our solar tracking systems. As a proud steel enthusiast throughout my career, I know the importance of Nextracker’s investment in expanding local manufacturing. With these partnerships, Nextracker has expanded our steel supply chain so it’s collocated with the Kingdom’s growing demand for solar PV.

As someone who’s worked in the region for years, I’ve found that the Saudis are some of the sharpest businesspeople in the world. By locally sourcing the project’s steel, the Kingdom saw that Nextracker will not just support local jobs and workforce development, it also insulates future projects from supply chain risks that can threaten timely deployment. With freight and metal costs rising, the solar sector can keep costs low and schedules predictable with a resilient local supply chain.

Last week I had an opportunity to sit down with Nextracker Chief Commercial Officer, Marco Garcia to discuss solar’s market growth in the region. Watch our video fireside chat here.

 

Expanding Nextracker’s MENA footprint

Nextracker has been engaged in the Middle East North Africa region since 2015 and is committed to partnering with local businesses and governments to source regional projects.  Our flagship project is the 1 GW DEWA V in Dubai, which has a robotic cleaning solution that allows panels to be cleaned without using water – an issue very important in the region. We have doubled down on our investment in Saudi partnerships to cement our presence in the area. And now with our expanded presence, NX is planting a flag in UAE soil with our new office and my appointment as the new MENA VP of Sales.

Building a resilient supply chain

But it’s what this milestone says about the global solar industry that makes it significant.

In my view, this is part of a worldwide wave of investments companies and nations are making sure that the solar supply chain is more resilient and decentralized. In fact, I see our local partnerships as a model for future projects as supply chain considerations will become increasingly crucial as the global solar industry matures.

Partnership is a foundational pillar of our success, and it’s through those local steel manufacturing partnerships that we were able to secure a win-win to deliver for customers and support the Kingdom’s goals in the new green economy. I think this milestone sends a signal to the solar industry: Local sourcing is going to be an increasing priority as solar continues to mature. In many ways, the future of solar is local.

The World Future Energy Summit’s sunny forecast for solar as the natural successor to oil is right on. Please come meet me and the Nextracker team at WFES, HALL 6, Booth 6120.

Let’s talk solar.