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The Middle East Ventures Into Solar, Wind Energy

Stocks in this article: AMAT

Written by Ucilia Wang

There's no question the Middle East is a world energy leader today, with more than half of the world's oil reserves and some 36 percent of the world's natural-gas reserves.

Now it looks like the region also could become a leader in renewable energy.

The Middle East has displayed a growing interest in investing in renewable-energy projects. And new policies could make the sun-baked region an attractive greentech market, according to Piper Jaffray analysts, who are visiting the Middle East this week as part of a trade mission with the U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce.

In a research note Tuesday, Piper Jaffray analyst Jesse Pichel wrote that he believes the region's demand for energy "far exceeds" what it can generate from natural-gas plants, based on meetings with government officials and companies in Egypt. The country ratified the Kyoto Protocol and has a set goal of generating 20 percent of its electrical power from renewable sources by 2020.

"We believe renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar, will be needed to satisfy this growing demand," Pichel wrote.

After two days of meetings in Egypt, the trade mission plans to visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai the rest of this week.

Granted, solar and wind installations in the Middle East are minimal today compared with those in Europe, the United States and Japan. But government and private spending on renewable energy in the region is growing.

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