Saudi Arabia’s Future Growth To Be Driven by Solar Energy

With non-renewable sources of energy depleting at a rapid rate, everyone is looking into alternative energy sources for their power needs. One of the frontrunners in sustainable, renewable energy sources is solar power. During the MENASol 2016 conference, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia revealed their plans to jump on the bandwagon of renewable energy, following the example of several other Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) countries such as India and Morocco.

According to Dr Ibrahim Babelli (Deputy Minister for Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia), the plans are already set in motion for getting around 9.5 GW power from purely renewable energy sources by 2023. This is planned in tandem with the large industrialization projects that are in pipeline. The power required for these huge projects are scheduled to be obtained from solar energy. This is to be done using both Photovoltaic (PV) power as well as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).

Basically, PVs with batteries are ideal for short duration of storage, while CSP provides longer storage time with lower cost of generation of power. With a combination of both PV as well as CSP, Saudi Arabia plans to fulfil its power demands during its peak season, with a cost far lower than required for construction of a large scale nuclear reactor. Generating power from sun also helps in decreasing the dips in power caused due to the outages in big power plants. 

Many behemoth firms like Saudi Aramco, ACWA Power, Polysilicon Technology Company, and Abdul Latif Jameel have already declared their solidarity in this renewable energy vision of Saudi Arabia. In addition, invitations are being extended to the solar consultants and developers across the globe to plan for solar power projects in Saudi Arabia. Till date, companies from Saudi have invested around $5.5 billion in renewable energy across world, and another $16 billion worth of projects are in pipeline.

The plan is to achieve 52% capacity of renewable energy installed by 2030 in Saudi Arabia. According to Mohamed Sahri of Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), a pre-qualification for Noor Midelt CSP-PV project is being planned within a few weeks, while the hybrid solar project Noor Tata would be kicked off by December 2016. All these projects are intended to help in financial closing of the development of a utility scale PV plant with 170 MW capacity called Noor PV 1 project by beginning of 2017. Overall, solar power seems to be poised to play a major role in energy generation as well as economic improvement of Saudi Arabia. The future indeed looks bright as the sun!