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The Middle East Ventures Into Solar, Wind Energy

Last week, Egyptian cable company El-Sewedy Cables said it had created a new wind-energy subsidiary, the Sewedy Wind Energy Group, and had spent ¿40 million ($51.06 million) to buy a 30 percent stake in M. Torres Olvega, a wind-energy equipment maker in Spain, Reuters reported. El-Sewedy CEO Ahmed El-Sewedy said in a written statement that the new wind-energy business will make various wind equipment.

A Pakistan government official recently told the Voice of Germany that the country intends to produce 1 gigawatt of wind power in the next few years.

And in the United Arab Emirates, Solar Technologies FZE is developing a thin-film solar factory in Dubai. The factory is expected to have the capacity to make up to 130 megawatts of amorphous-silicon thin-film panels using equipment from California-based Applied Materials (AMAT - Get Report), according to the company's Web site. The plant is scheduled to begin operating by the end of 2010.

Meanwhile, Masdar [operated by <b>The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company</b>], a major cleantech initiative launched in 2006 by Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, has invested significant sums in both cleantech companies and renewable-energy projects. The initiative received a significant boost in January when the government said it would invest $15 billion in the program to benefit solar, wind, carbon-emissions-reduction and hydrogen technologies, among others.

In August, Masdar broke ground on its first thin-film solar panel factory, a $230 million project making amorphous-silicon panels in Germany. The initiative also plans to develop a 6-square-kilometer, car-free community called Masdar City within Abu Dhabi to showcase clean technology. The community will be home to a 140-megawatt, amorphous-silicon panel factory.

A Chinese amorphous-silicon thin-film company reportedly has also been tapped for a 10-megawatt solar project in the United Arab Emirates, Pichel wrote.

The emergence of a natural-gas cartel will likely spur more renewable-energy developments in the Middle East as the region's governments seek new ways to reduce their dependence on natural gas, he added.

Iran proposed the cartel last year and has since been joined by Russia and Qatar to establish an organization similar to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). These countries control about 60 percent of the natural-gas reserves worldwide, according to the Piper Jaffray note.

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