Sunshine brings ‘gold rush’ for investors, says solar entrepreneur
Executive at Canada-based Skypower Corp. says projects in Gulf region will create many jobs
Solar energy has triggered a “gold rush” for investors, according to the head of a Canada-based energy firm.
Kerry Adler, chief executive of SkyPower Global Group of Companies, says the reliability of the sun makes solar a stable investment.
“Solar is one of the most stable and attractive investments in our generation, and the reason being is the predictability of the sun,” said Adler.
Adler founded Skypower in 2003, and the company now has projects in approximately 60 countries worldwide. The firm built Canada’s first large-scale solar parks.
“Steady returns [of solar energy] are far superior [to] securities, equities, or government bonds,” he added.
Investment in the field is “like the days of the gold rush”, he added. “Investors in developing [solar] companies are experiencing tremendous financial returns.”
Others struck a more cautionary note when it comes to investing in solar.
Trevor McFarlane, research director at the Dubai-based economic research group Gulfstat, said that while there is a demand for investing in solar energy, challenges still lie ahead, especially in the emerging markets.
“We are seeing a huge interest in investing in solar energy, and the industry certainly represents a great opportunity given the capacity building happening across the world, and not least within the Middle East,” said McFarlane, who covers Middle East and Africa for Gulfstat.
“However, as with any emerging sector it is not without its challenges, such as potential shifts in international energy markets, regulations, new technologies or government support… So I wouldn’t describe it as the best investment out there.”
Adler likened investing in solar energy to the “era of automobile manufacturing in the early 1900s,” when wealth creation soared for car manufactures, which employed thousands of people in assembly lines.
Solar projects help create many jobs in manufacturing, construction, operation, and maintenance, Adler said.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is planning to generate 41,000 megawatts from solar energy by 2032. Qatar expects to have about 1,800 megawatts of solar power by 2020.
The Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), a Dubai-based NGO, said in January that the region could spend up to $50 billion on developing solar power over the next seven years. It estimates that the Middle East, led by the Gulf states, will install 12,000-15,000 megawatts of solar power by 2020.
The “financial stability” of the Gulf states make the region attractive to Skypower, Adler said.
The solar developer is also interested in Egypt, in which it has carried out “preliminary work”, but says the Gulf market has “the greatest promise for our shareholders or third investors.”
Meanwhile, in Jordan, the company is expected to spend several hundred million U.S. dollars in the upcoming 3-5 years.
SkyPower is majority owned by the Los Angeles-based CIM Group, a real estate and infrastructure investment company with over $13.1 billion in assets under management.