YEMEN: Wind and solar energy fall short of potential

Tik Root | IRIN News

SANA’A, 6 December 2012 (IRIN) - Thirteen years ago electronics retailer Abdulmajeed al-Wahbani was one of the first people in Yemen to venture into the solar power business. So far the gamble has paid off.

His solar panel supply business found a niche and has seen impressive growth, while also helping to fight rural poverty.

"People need to work, and to secure their business and their life, they will go to solar power," he told IRIN.

He said his rapid business growth is tied to a negative trend in Yemen - increasingly frequent and lengthy power outages over the past decade, especially during the political instability last year. Power cuts can sometimes last for weeks, acting as a brake on the economy, outside major cities.

In 2013 he is planning a nationwide advertising campaign to promote renewable energy - something he hopes will spread to the "entire country". While that goal may seem ambitious, both the need and potential for renewable energy in Yemen are high.

Yemen's western coast, from Bab al-Mandab to Al-Mokha, rates among the windiest corridors in the world, while the country's frequently clear skies make it a prime candidate for solar power. More modest geothermal potential also exists.