This study seeks to provide a clear and comprehensive overview on the various aspects related to the current status and the future prospects of renewable energy (namely solar and wind) in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries (SEMCs). In order to do so, the study will first provide a comprehensive analysis of the regional energy market, particularly focusing on the booming energy -and electricity- demand. This key trend is likely to further accelerate in the future, at a level that might create additional risks to the economic sustainability of the region, considering the extensive use of universal fossil-fuel consumption subsidies. Meanwhile, solar and wind energy continue to cover less than 1% of the region’s electricity generation mix: a figure that strongly collides with the region’s abundant solar and wind resources. In fact, SEMCs are endowed with a huge solar and wind energy potential. The exploitation of this potential could bring various benefits to the region, such as meeting the rising energy/electricity demand at a lower cost, freeing up additional export volumes of oil and gas in energy exporting countries, reducing energy bills in energy importing countries, creating new jobs, alleviating energy poverty, enhancing the quality of the environment and enhancing cooperation both among SEMCs and between SEMCs and the EU. Notwithstanding all the efforts to promote renewable energy carried out over the last decade both at the regional level and at the European level (e.g. Desertec, Mediterranean Solar Plan, etc.), SEMCs continue to lag far behind most other regions in the world in terms of solar and wind energy deployment. This study will try to explore the reasons of this paradox, particularly focusing on the key barriers to the development of renewable energy in the region: the extensive use of energy subsidies and the lack of adequate electricity infrastructures, energy regulatory frameworks and financing mechanisms. On the basis of this in-depth analysis, the study will propose an innovative approach to tackle these barriers, involving a joint action of MedTSO, MEDREG and key financial institutions under the umbrella of a newly-established “Euro-Med Renewable Energy Platform” designed to become -on the basis of an inclusive, pragmatic and bottom-up approach- the new catalyst for the development of renewable energy in SEMCs.
Suggested citation: S. Tagliapietra (2015), “The Future of Renewable Energy in the Mediterranean”; in M.T. Costa Campi (ed.), “Energy Regulation and Investments: Solutions for the Mediterranean Region”, Elsevier, Amsterdam.