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Clean energy in Mideast attracts Chinese firms

Oil-rich countries in the Middle East that plan to boost clean energy development are expecting Chinese firms to grasp opportunities in the regional market.

With increasing domestic energy demand, the Egyptian government is pushing for diversified energy consumption, said Mahmoud Mustafa, a senior official in charge of new energy projects with Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

By 2020, electricity generated by renewable resources will account for 20 percent of the country's total, including 12 percent from wind power and 8 percent from solar energy, said Mustafa, during the China-Arab States Expo held in northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region from September 15 to 19.

"China has accumulated much successful experience in the renewable energy sector. We hope Chinese companies will visit Egypt's renewable energy projects and establish joint ventures and exchange experiences," said the Egyptian official.

Saudi Arabia, one of the world's leading oil producers and exporters, also eyes solar power development.

By 2032, solar power will account for one third of Saudi's total electricity generation with the solar panel market worth more than $100 billion in the next 20 years, according to Khalid Halawani, commercial counselor of the Saudi Embassy in Beijing.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest trade partner of China in West Asia and Africa, but 70 percent of trade is oil, according to Halawani. He hopes the two countries will strengthen cooperation in the new energy sector with investment from big Chinese companies.

New energy has become an important development sector for other Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Jordan.

Renewable energy is a new field in Sino-Arab cooperation, given the importance attached to the sector, especially solar and wind power by Arab countries, said Han Wenke, director of the Energy Research Institute of China's National Development and Reform Commission.

The International Renewable Energy Agency, an inter-governmental organization devoted to a sustainable energy future, is headquartered in Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

The Middle East has rich sunlight resources and some countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE have supporting policies for solar energy, said Zhang Hao, deputy general manager of Yingli Green Energy, a leading Chinese solar panel manufacturer.

Some Chinese solar panel companies have already tapped into the Middle East market with good sales of their products.

Replacing fuel-generated power with solar energy will be a trend in the Middle East, according to Zhang.

Zhang said his company faces a sharp drop in sales from Europe and the United States due to anti-dumping moves, but will see an increase in the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa and South America.

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