This piece is part of the series “All About China”—a journey into the history and diverse culture of China through short articles that shed light on the lasting imprint of China’s past encounters with the Islamic world as well as an exploration of the increasingly vibrant and complex dynamics of contemporary Sino-Middle Eastern relations. Read more ...


Although global energy demand fell in 2020 due to the pandemic,[1] investment in energy transition increased.[2] In April, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reported that renewable energy’s share of new generating capacity rose substantially for the second year in a row.[3] China, which has emerged as the indisputable leader of renewable energy expansion worldwide, has begun to reorient its overseas energy investment and finance towards non-fossil fuels projects. This shift could portend a larger role for China in the MENA region’s growing renewables sector, especially in solar power production.  

“Green” China at Home and Abroad

China has set ambitious renewable generation goals and already made significant progress in achieving them. Four-and-a-half years have elapsed since President Xi Jinping issued China’s bold claim to global leadership in renewable energy.[4] In the intervening time, China has become the world’s leading country in electricity production from renewable energy sources,[5] with the largest installed capacity of hydro, solar, and wind power.[6] Specifically with respect to solar, China dominates nearly all aspects of use and manufacturing, including key segments of the solar supply chain.[7] 

Data from China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) shows the country’s renewable energy capacity is increasing rapidly.[8] China’s renewables consumption rose by 15% in 2020, accounting for 25% of global renewables demand and 36% of global growth.[9] Advances in technology and plunging clean energy prices indicate that China could reliably operate its electricity grids on at least 62% non-fossil electricity generation by 2030, while cutting costs by as much as 11%[10] — a projection that might not be overly optimistic, given how dramatically renewable energy and storage prices have dropped in recent years.

China’s “greening” is evident also in its efforts to solidify its climate credentials internationally. Last September, Xi announced at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that China would aim to attain a CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.[11] On the anniversary of his UNGA carbon neutrality pledge, Xi declared that China “will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.”[12] He further announced that “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy.”[13]

Here, it is important to note that China’s investment in renewables accounted for most (57%) of the country’s financial support for overseas energy projects in 2020 — up from 38% in 2019.[14] Also noteworthy is the fact that, over the preceding five years, Chinese-supported development of coal-fired power overseas had already slowed down, due largely to the decreasing competitiveness of coal power compared to renewables and host countries’ declining appetite for coal. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) reported in June that nearly half of the coal power projects planned and permitted with Chinese involvement have been cancelled or suspended.[15]

To be sure, China’s energy investments abroad remain concentrated in fossil fuels. However, over the past decade, renewables with Chinese overseas investment and financing have been increasing.[16] The result is that China today is the world’s leading outbound investor in renewable energy. If the rapid downward price trend for renewable energy continues and capital investment choices shift away from fossil fuels, Chinese investment and involvement in overseas renewable energy deployment will likely increase — including in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Renewables Gain Traction Across the MENA

The case for the expansion of renewable energy production in the MENA region is a strong one. MENA countries face the challenge of surging demand for electricity. Some have limited or no supply of indigenous hydrocarbon resources. Ramping up renewable energy production would decrease the strain on fiscal resources in import-dependent countries, could assist the economic diversification of the fossil fuel producing countries, could help address joblessness, and would reduce the climate risks that the region is facing.[17]

Although the region has enormous renewable, especially solar and wind energy potential,[18] MENA countries are far from fully capitalizing on it. The region trails only Central Asia in using renewables as a primary energy source.[19] Renewable energy represents just 7% of the MENA’s power generation capacity.[20] The region has also experienced its share of renewable project disappointments, including Desertec[21] and the Mediterranean Solar Plan (MSP);[22] false starts, such as the Saudi-SoftBank mega solar plant,[23] and scaled back initiatives, notably Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City.[24] 

Nevertheless, renewables are gaining traction, spurred by unprecedented cost declines and lofty national targets.[25] Several MENA countries are among the global front-runners in renewable energy development.[26] The world’s largest and least costly solar projects are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco have built significant renewable energy capacity. Indeed, the region’s renewable energy landscape is rapidly evolving. Mirroring global trends, renewables constitute the largest share of planned and committed power project in the MENA region for the period 2020-2024.[27] MENA countries awarded as much as US$2.8 billion worth of renewable energy projects in the first half of 2021.[28]

The Growth of the Gulf Solar Market Gathers Pace

What, then, of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states? Hydrocarbons have been the traditional driving force of the GCC economies. However, with the recent period of record-low oil prices and the catalytic role the coronavirus pandemic has played in accelerating the global energy towards cleaner energy sources, all six GCC states are now prioritizing renewables.[29] Over the past year, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman have forged ahead with renewable energy projects. And GCC states have committed to targets for low-carbon energy in power generation capacity with shares ranging from 15% to 50%.[30]

The Emirates and Saudi Arabia are regional leaders in the energy transition, together accounting for the lion’s share of renewable energy build-out and research.[31] UAE leads the pack in grid-connected low-carbon energy capacity, and along with its Gulf Arab peers has organized competitive auctions for renewable energy projects.[32] The main type of renewable energy deployed in the UAE is solar. In recent years, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have pursued ambitious solar projects. The Masdar City solar PV plant became operational in 2009. Noor Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest solar plant, came online two years ago. The total capacity (2 GW) of the solar farm project at Al-Dhafra, whose construction began in June and is expected to be completed next year, will be nearly double that of Noor.[33] Dubai, which surpassed its 2020 renewable energy target, expects to add 600 MW of clean energy capacity in 2021.[34] Meanwhile, progress continues apace in the five-phase development of the vast Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which upon completion will help bring within reach Dubai’s goal of generating 75% of its total power output from clean energy by 2050. It is noteworthy that all five phases of the project have achieved record-breaking low tariffs in the absence of subsidies.

The UAE recently became the first Gulf petrostate to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050 and pledged to invest $160 billion to do so[35] — an initiative that could place pressure on its neighbors to raise their ambitions. Saudi Arabia, for its part, has stepped up efforts to expand renewable energy supply. The Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) has “substantially increased” its ambitions.[36] Last March, as part of a newly announced “Green Initiative,”[37] Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its five-year old commitment to 50% renewable power by 2030.[38] The next month, state-owned ACWA Power launched its first utility-scale renewable energy project, the 300 MW Sakaka solar initiative,[39] and announced the signing of seven power purchase agreements (PPAs) for new solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the second round of the country’s procurement scheme for renewable energies.[40] In one of the newly signed PPAs, Saudi Aramco has joined forces with ACWA Power and Water & Electricity Holding Co. to embark on construction of a nearly $1 billion solar power plant in the Kingdom.[41]

Meanwhile, state-backed Emirati and Saudi companies have been building global portfolios of renewable energy assets. Gulf power companies Masdar (UAE) and ACWA Power (KSA) have emerged as major developers of renewable energy projects across and beyond the Middle East.[42] UAE power producer Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), which already has investments in Iraq and Morocco, recently announced plans to increase its renewable energy assets in regional and international markets.[43] In early October, Masdar announced that it had signed a strategic agreement with Iraq to develop five solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.[44] UAE power producer Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA), which has investments in Iraq and Morocco, recently announced plans to increase its renewable energy assets in regional and international markets.[45] ACWA Power, part-owned by the KSA’s sovereign wealth fund, has a presence in 11 countries, including Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and the UAE; and has backed the largest private solar power projects in both Egypt and South Africa.[46] The Riyadh-based company, which launched an initial public offering (IPO) in October, has its eyes set on using the proceeds to accelerate the growth of its renewable energy portfolio in target markets.  

China’s Prospects in the Mideast Solar Market Brighten

China’s “green engagement” in the Middle East and North Africa is already well established, and its portfolio of clean energy projects throughout the region continues to grow. Over the past decade, Chinese companies — mostly state-owned firms — have acquired a stake in many of the MENA’s major renewable energy projects. In addition, China has played an increasing role in the expansion of “green” finance across the region.

In recent years, Chinese engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors and suppliers have flocked to the MENA solar market, whose large-scale projects have helped attract funding and draw in a host of international players. The two years prior to COVID-19 were marked by the completion of major solar projects (e.g., in Morocco[47] and Egypt[48]) and the announcement of several new ones (e.g., in Saudi Arabia,[49] Oman,[50] and Iran[51]) involving Chinese companies. To a large extent, the competitive pricing environment in the MENA solar market today is a function of the participation of the Chinese supply chain.

Several months after the coronavirus pandemic struck the Gulf, the 1.2-gigawatt (GW) Noor Abu Dhabi solar plant in Sweihan, which China’s JinkoSolar Holding co-developed with Japan’s Marubeni, entered commercial operation.[52] Since then, Chinese companies — capitalizing on their early-mover advantage, successful project engagement in the region, and extensive Sino-Gulf energy ties — have been invited to bid for new tenders[53] and have garnered a slew of new contracts and acquisitions in the Gulf solar sector, including:  

  • May 2020: The Silk Road Fund completed its acquisition of a 49% stake in Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power Renewable Energy Holding, a partnership intended to lay the groundwork for facilitating renewable energy projects along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).[54]
  • July 2020: Shanghai Electric announced it secured a contract with ACWA Power to build the fifth 900 MW phase of the UAE’s Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.[55]
  • July 2021: Jinko Power Technology Co., Ltd., along with EDF Renewables (a subsidiary of the French EDF Group), was awarded the Al Dhafra solar project in Abu Dhabi.[56]
  • August 2021: State-owned PowerChina and Iraq inked an initial agreement to develop up to 2 GW of solar power plants.[57]
  • August 2021: A consortium led by China Three Gorges South Asia Investment (CSAIL), acquired Alcazar Energy Partners (AEP), a Dubai-based independent wind and solar developer with projects in Jordan and Egypt.[58] 
  • October 2021: Two Chinese companies — China Energy Engineering Corp. Ltd. and Xian Electric Engineering Co. Ltd. — joined Orascom Construction and Hitachi ABB Power Grid in signing  consortium contracts for implementing the Egypt-Saudi electricity power grid linkage project.[59]

To date, global energy finance provided through the China Development Bank (CDB) and Export-Import Bank of China (Ex-Im) remains sharply skewed toward fossil fuels projects. Although renewables support through project loans provided through majority-state owned commercial banks has increased in recent years, perhaps indicating the growing profitability of such projects,[60] Chinese companies have still found it difficult to obtain financing for overseas renewable projects.[61] But the Bank of China’s announcement that it would no longer provide financing for overseas coal power projects could result in resources being redirected to renewable energy. China’s Silk Road Fund has taken an equity stake in in the fourth phase of the Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) solar park, with support for the project provided by a lending group that includes Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Everbright Bank, and China Minsheng Bank.[62] Last year, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), where China holds a roughly 30% voting share and which recently expanded funding for renewable energy projects,[63] approved a $60 million loan to support the construction of the 500-megawatt Ibri II solar power plant in Oman.[64] It is therefore possible that greater Chinese financial support for overseas solar projects in BRI countries, including in the Middle East, may be on the horizon.

Conclusion

Even under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, renewable sources of energy have continued to grow rapidly worldwide. According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook-2021 (WEO-2021), there is unmistakable evidence that “a new energy economy is emerging.” The WEO-2021 adds that “[t]he potential prize is huge for those who make the leap” to embrace it.[65] The report also identifies four key areas where countries need to make progress in the “crucial period” to 2030, the first and most important of which is a “massive additional push” for clean electrification.[66]

The MENA region has some of the highest solar exposure rates in the world. MENA countries are capitalizing on their promising resources for renewable power generation.[67] Photovoltaic (PV) technology is now the most competitive form of power generation across the GCC and dominates the latter’s renewables outlook.[68] Although the most striking gains have been made in the biggest energy markets — UAE and Saudi Arabia — solar deployment has progressed in the other GCC states as well, albeit more slowly. In fact, countries across the MENA region have been ramping up solar power investment.

The capacity additions in the pipeline, both in solar power production and the wider electricity supply chain, have provided attractive growth prospects for market participants. Chinese companies, already a major force in the transition to green energy in the MENA, are well positioned and taking steps to expand their presence in the region’s renewables market, particularly in the solar sector.

The IEA projects a further concentration of Middle East-Asia trade flows over the next three decades, fueled by an increase in the share of seaborne oil trade between the two regions.[69] Meanwhile, though, new dimensions of energy trade between the Middle East and Asia are just beginning to take shape as the clean energy transition unfolds. The growing presence of Chinese funds and firms in the Mideast solar market could be a prelude to the formation of strategic commercial partnerships. Such partnerships might aim to establish manufacturing and assembly platforms — situated in the Gulf, North Africa, or both — to produce local components for and/or re-export Chinese solar technologies.

The pursuit of energy diversification through the implementation of large-scale solar projects by MENA governments is a trend that is likely to continue. Underpinning this trend is a strong foundation of Sino-Middle Eastern cooperation in the solar energy sector. But accelerating solar energy adoption across the region will not be easy. Nor is more extensive Chinese involvement in the solar sector inevitable. Challenges abound that may slow the projected growth of solar deployment in the region, including technical problems of intermittency and mass storage, as well as economic obstacles in the form of subsidies for oil and gas. The financial support by China’s policy banks and commercial institutions needed to entice Chinese companies to undertake new projects might not be forthcoming. Furthermore, such cooperation could become ensnared in the US-China trade war and, more broadly, in the Sino-American strategic rivalry and thus have a disruptive effect on projects under development. Therefore, sustaining the momentum towards a solar revolution in the Middle East and China’s relatively high level of engagement in the greening of the region might prove difficult. Nevertheless, the headway recently made is undeniable — as is the need and potential for further progress.   


[1] International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Investment 2020, https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/ef8ffa01-9958-49f5-9b3b-7842e30f6177/WEI2020.pdf.
 

[2] “Energy Transition Investment Hit $500 Billion in 2020 – For First Time,” BloombergNEF, January 19, 2021, https://about.bnef.com/blog/energy-transition-investment-hit-500-billion-in-2020-for-first-time/.
 

[3] International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021, April 2021, https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2021/Apr/IRENA_RE_Capacity_Statistics_2021.pdf.
 

[4] Ma Tianije, “China raises its low carbon ambitions in new 2020 targets,” China Dialogue, January 5, 2017, https://chinadialogue.net/en/climate/9532-china-raises-its-low-carbon-ambitions-in-new-2-2-targets/; and “The Energy Administration issued the ‘13th Five-Year Plan for Energy Development,’ etc.,” Press Release, May 13, 2017, http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2017-01/05/content_5156795.htm?allContent#1.
 

[5] “Factbox: Achievements in China’s energy development,” Xinhua, December 21, 2020, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-12/21/c_139607437.htm; International Energy Agency (IEA), Global Energy Review 2020: The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on global energy demand and CO2 emissions, July 2020, https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/7e802f6a-0b30-4714-abb1-46f21a7a9530/Global_Energy_Review_2020.pdf.  
 

[7] Jeff Ferry, “Reclaiming the US Solar Supply Chain from China,” Coalition for a Prosperous America (March 2021): 9-10, https://prosperousamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/210309-CPA_WP-Solar_Supply_Chain.pdf.
 

[8] Xu Yihe, “Green leap forward: China boosts renewable energy capacity,” Upstreamonline.com, August 4, 2021, https://www.upstreamonline.com/energy-transition/green-leap-forward-china-boosts-renewable-energy-capacity/2-1-1047867.
 

[10] Gang He at al., “Rapid cost decrease of renewables and storage accelerates the decarbonization of China’s power system,” Nature Communications 11, 2486 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16184-x.
 

[11] Statement by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China At the General Debate of the 75th Session of The United Nations General Assembly, September 22, 2020, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/t1817098.shtml.
 

[12] “Bolstering Confidence and Jointly Overcoming Difficulties To Build a Better World,” Statement by President Xi Jinping at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” September 21, 2021, KaLk3d9ECB53_en.pdf (unmeetings.org).
 

[13] Ibid.
 

[14] Christoph Nedopil Wang, China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Report 2020, Green Belt and Road Initiative Center, January 21, 2021, https://green-bri.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/China-BRI-Investment-Report-2020.pdf.
 

[15] Isabella Suarez, “BRIEFING: 4.5 times as much coal capacity linked to China cancelled or shelved,” Centre for Research and Energy on Clean Air, June 15, 2021, https://energyandcleanair.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CH-Overseas-Coal-Briefing.pdf.
 

[16] Bo Kong and Kevin Gallagher, “Chinese Development Finance for Solar and Wind Power Abroad,” Boston University Global Policy Center, GCI Working Paper 009, January 2020, https://www.bu.edu/gdp/2020/02/05/chinese-development-finance-for-solar-and-wind-power-abroad/; and Xinhue Ma, “Understanding China’s Global Power,” Boston University Global Policy Center, GCI Policy Brief, October 2020, https://www.bu.edu/gdp/files/2020/10/GCI_PB_000_EN-2.pdf.
 

[17] Aisha Al Sarihi, “Renewable Energy in the Gulf Arab States,” Georgetown University | SFS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, November 18, 2019, https://ccas.georgetown.edu/2019/11/18/renewable-energy-in-the-gulf-arab-states/.
 

[18] Arman Aghahosseini et al., “Towards sustainable development in the MENA region: Analysing the feasibility of a 100% renewable electricity system in 2030,” Energy Strategy Reviews 28 (March 2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esr.2020.100466.
 

[20] Philip Gordon, “MENA commits to renewable energy despite new challenges,” Smart Energy, May 18, 2020, https://www.smart-energy.com/renewable-energy/mena-commits-to-renewable-energy-despite-new-challenges/.
 

[21] Luigi Carafa and Gonzalo Escribano, “Renewable energy in the MENA: Why did the Desertec approach fail?” in Robert E. Looney (ed.), Handbook of Transitions to Energy and Climate Security (London: Routledge, 2017).
 

[22] Gonzalo Escribano, “The geopolitics of renewable and electricity cooperation between Morocco and Spain,” Mediterranean Politics 24, 5 (2019): 674-681, DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2018.1443772.
 

[23] Rory Jones and Summer Said, “Saudi Arabia Shelves Work on SoftBank’s $200 Billion Solar Project,” Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-shelves-work-on-softbanks-200-billion-solar-project-1538328820; and Michael Safi, “How real is Saudi Arabia's interest in renewable energy?” The Guardian, October 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/12/how-real-saudi-arabia-interest-renewable-energy.
 

[24] Anthony Flint, “What Abu Dhabi’s City of the Future Looks Like Now,” Bloomberg, February 14, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-14/the-reality-of-abu-dhabi-s-unfinished-utopia.
 

[25] Leila R. Benali et al., MENA Energy Investment Outlook, 2021-2025: Overcoming the Pandemic, APICORP (May 2021): 39, https://www.apicorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/APICORP_MENAEnergyOutlook2021-2025_EN_FINAL.pdf.
 

[26] Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), MENA Solar and Renewable Energy Report, 2021, https://www.middleeast-energy.com/content/dam/Informa/Middle-East-Electricity/middle-east-energy-2021/reports-mee/MEE_Mesia_Report_v3.pdf.
 

[27] Leila Benali et al., MENA Power Investment Outlook 2020-2024, Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), December 2020, https://www.apicorp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/APICORP_MENA-Power-Investment-Outlook-2020-2024_EN_FINAL.pdf.
 

[28] Anand Gupta, “Renewable Power Projects Overtake Oil & Gas in Middle East,” EQ International, July 31, 2021, https://www.eqmagpro.com/renewable-power-projects-overtake-oil-gas-in-middle-east/.
 

[29] Ahmed Elrahmani et al., “Status of renewable energy in the GCC region and future opportunities,” Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering 31 (2021): 1-12; and F. R. Alharbi and D. Csala, “GCC Countries’ Renewable Energy Penetration and the Progress of Their Energy Sector Projects,” IEEE Access 8 (2020): 211986-212002. doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.3039936.
 

[30] International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Energy Market Analysis: GCC 2019 (January 2019), https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2019/Jan/IRENA_Market_Analysis_GCC_2019.pdf.
 

[31] Jean-François Seznec and Samer Mosis, “The Energy Transition in the Arab Gulf: From Vision to Reality,” The Atlantic Council (July 2021): 5, 6, 12, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/AC_GulfTransitions_FINAL.pdf.  
 

[32] J. Krupa, R. Poudineh, and L.D.D. Harvey, “Renewable electricity finance in the resource-rich countries of the Middle East and North Africa: a case study on the Gulf Cooperation Council,” Energy 166, 1 (2019): 1047-1062. 
 

[33] Jennifer Aguinaldo, “CMEC begins Al-Dhafra solar project construction,” MEED, June 17, 2021.
 

[34] “Dubai to get 600MW additional clean energy this year,” Gulf Business, June 13, 2021, https://gulfbusiness.com/dubai-to-get-600mw-additional-clean-energy-this-year/.
 

[35] Lisa Barrington, “UAE launched plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Reuters, October 7, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/uae-launches-plan-achieve-net-zero-emissions-by-2050-2021-10-07/.
 

[36] Middle East Solar Energy Association (MESEA), SOLAR OUTLOOK REPORT 2020, January 2020: 51, https://www.mesia.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/MESIA-Annual-Solar-Outlook-Report-2020.pdf.
 

[37] “HRH Crown Prince Announces: ‘The Saudi Green Initiative and The Middle East Green Initiative,’” Saudi Press Agency, March 27, 2021, https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2208375.
 

[38] Amena Saiyid, “Saudi Arabia recommits to 50% renewable power by 2030,” IHS Markit, March 29, 2021, https://ihsmarkit.com/research-analysis/saudi-arabia-recommits-to-50-renewable-power-by-2030.html.
 

[39] “ACWA Power unveils Saudi Arabia’s first renewable energy project,” Power Technology, April 12, 2021, https://www.power-technology.com/news/acwa-power-renewable-project/.
 

[40] “Saudi Arabia signs agreements for seven new solar projects -SPA,” Reuters, April 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-signs-agreements-7-new-solar-projects-spa-2021-04-08/.
 

[41] Anthony Di Paola, “Ramco Joins Group Building Giant Solar Plant in Saudi Arabia,” Bloomberg, August 15, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-15/aramco-joins-group-building-giant-solar-plant-in-saudi-arabia.
 

[42] Dania Saadi and Kshitiz Golia, “Gulf power companies eye investments in $10 trillion global renewables market,” S&P Global Platts, February 25, 2020, https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/022520-gulf-power-companies-eye-investments-in-10-trillion-global-renewables-market; Jon Whiteaker, “Gulf states turn from oil to embrace the energy transition,” Investment Monitor, April 14, 2021, https://investmentmonitor.ai/energy/gulf-states-energy-transition.
 

[43] “UAE energy firm TAQA plans to expand its renewables portfolio,” Reuters, March 24, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/taqa-strategy-int/uae-energy-firm-taqa-plans-to-expand-its-renewables-portfolio-idUSKBN2BG0RI.
 

[44] “Abu Dhabi’s Masdar to develop five solar projects in Iraq,” Zawya, October 7, 2021, https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/business/story/Abu_Dhabis_Masdar_to_develop_five_solar_projects_in_Iraq-WAM20211007090602130/.
 

[45] “UAE energy firm TAQA plans to expand its renewables portfolio,” Reuters, March 24, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/taqa-strategy-int/uae-energy-firm-taqa-plans-to-expand-its-renewables-portfolio-idUSKBN2BG0RI

[46] J.P. Casey, “Saudi Arabian solar: how the state has invested in overseas solar projects,” Power Technology, July 7, 2021, https://www.power-technology.com/features/saudi-arabian-solar-how-the-state-has-invested-in-overseas-solar-projects/.
 

[47] Jason Deign, “Saudi Arabia Looks to China for Solar as Power Politics Shift,” Green Tech Media, February 5, 2019, https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/saudi-looks-to-china-for-solar-as-power-politics-shift.

[48] “China’s renewable energy company completes construction of 3 plants in Egypt,” Xinhua, March 21, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-03/21/c_137913525.htm.

[49] Jason Deign, “Saudi Arabia Looks to China for Solar as Power Politics Shift,” Green Tech Media, February 5, 2019, https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/saudi-looks-to-china-for-solar-as-power-politics-shift.
 

[50] Don Weinland, “China’s State Grid to buy 49% stake in Oman Electricity,” Financial Times, December 16, 2019, https://www.ft.com/content/caeaed74-1fd7-11ea-b8a1-584213ee7b2b; and “China’s grid corporation acquires 49 pct shares of Oman's electricity company,” Xinhua, December 19, 2019, http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-12/16/c_138633482.htm.
 

[51] Hongfeng Xu and Jing Wang (trans. Yiwei Qi), “Renewable energy cooperation and financing between China and Iran,” Green Finance & Development Center, January 16, 2020, https://greenfdc.org/renewable-energy-cooperation-and-investment-and-financing-between-china-and-iran/.
 

[52] Gavin Davids, “Project Profile: Noor Abu Dhabi Solar Plant,” ME Construction News, June 3, 2020, https://meconstructionnews.com/41737/project-profile-noor-abu-dhabi-solar-plant.
 

[53] Carrie Xiao, “The Middle Eastern adventures of Chinese PV players,” PVTech, March 10, 2020, https://www.pv-tech.org/the-middle-eastern-adventure-of-chinese-pv-players-part-one/.
 

[54] “China’s Silk Road Fund acquires 49% stake in ACWA Power RenewCo,” Power Technology, May 11, 2020, https://www.power-technology.com/news/deal-news/acwa-power-completes-49-sale-silk-road-fund/.
 

[55] Vincent Shaw and Max Hall, “Chinese PV Industry Brief: Big deals in the Middle East,” PV Magazine, July 31, 2020, https://www.pv-magazine.com/2020/07/31/chinese-pv-industry-brief-big-deals-in-the-middle-east/.
 

[56] “EDF – Jinko Power consortium is awarded the world’s largest solar project in Abu Dhabi,” EDF Renewables, July 27, 2021, https://www.edf-renouvelables.com/en/edf-jinko-power-consortium-is-awarded-the-worlds-largest-solar-project-in-abu-dhabi/.
 

[57] Dania Saadi and Daniel Lalor, “Iraq, PowerChina ink agreement to develop up to 2GW of solar power,” S&P Global Platts, August 25, 2021, https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/energy-transition/082521-iraq-powerchina-ink-agreement-to-develop-up-to-2-gw-of-solar-power.
 

[58] Nadia Weekes, “China Three Gorges buys Dubai-based wind and solar developer Alcazar Energy,” Windpower Monthly, August 23, 2021, https://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1725417/china-three-gorges-buys-dubai-based-wind-solar-developer-alcazar-energy; and Nicholas Parisie, “China Muscles In on Middle East Renewables With Alcazar Deal,” Bloomberg, August 23, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-23/china-muscles-in-on-middle-east-renewables-with-alcazar-takeover.
 

[59] “Egypt, Saudi Arabia award contracts to link power grids,” Xinhua, October 6, 2021, http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2021-10/06/content_77791934.htm.
 

[60] Boston University Global Development Policy Center, “China’s Global Energy Finance,” https://www.bu.edu/cgef/#/all/EnergySource; and Han Chen, “Greener Power Projects for the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI),”  NRDC, April 22, 2019, https://www.nrdc.org/experts/han-chen/greener-power-projects-belt-road-initiative-bri.
 

[61] Bo Kong and Kevin Gallagher, “Chinese development finance for solar and wind power abroad,” Boston University Global Development Policy Center, Global China Initiative (GCI) Working Paper 009 (January 2020), https://www.bu.edu/gdp/files/2020/02/WP9-Kong-Bo-inc_abstract-1.pdf; “Chinadialogue | Chinese firms struggle to fund renewables projects overseas,” Greenovation Hub, April 6, 2020, https://www.ghub.org/en/chinadialogue-bri-re-report/.
 

[62] “Financial close reached on 950MW fourth phase of MBR Solar Park in Dubai,” NS Energy, March 25, 2019, https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/news/mbr-solar-park-phase-4-news/.
 

[63] Iori Kawate, “China-led AIIB targets 50% green investment by 2025,” Nikkei Asia, January 4, 2021, https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Environment/China-led-AIIB-targets-50-green-investment-by-2025.  
 

[64] Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), “AIIB’s USD60-M Solar Investment in Oman Supports Diversified Energy Mix,” March 26, 2020, https://www.aiib.org/en/news-events/news/2020/AIIBs-USD60-M-Solar-Investment-in-Oman-Supports-Diversified-Energy-Mix.html.
 

[65] International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook-2021 (WEO-2021): 22, https://iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/88dec0c7-3a11-4d3b-99dc-8323ebfb388b/WorldEnergyOutlook2021.pdf.
 

[66] Ibid., 38-41.
 

[67] Robin Mills, “Under a Cloud: The Future of Middle East Gas Demand,” Columbia | SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy, April 29, 2020, https://www.energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/report/under-cloud-future-middle-east-gas-demand; “Arab states are embracing solar power,” The Economist, May 9, 2020, https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2020/05/07/arab-states-are-embracing-solar-power.  
 

[68] Harry Apostoleris, Amal Al Ghaferi, and Matteo Chiesa, “What is going on with Middle Eastern solar prices, and what does it mean for the rest of us?” Progress in Photovoltaics, March 4, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.3414; IRENA, Renewable Energy Market Analysis: GCC 2019; and IRENA Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2020, June 2021, https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2021/Jun/IRENA_Power_Generation_Costs_2020.pdf.
 

[69] IEA, WEO-2021: 285-286.