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OPEC bulletin 2–3/14
Saudi Arabia’s solar power plans
heating up
Saudi Arabia’s plans to move ahead with
a switch to 100 per cent clean energy are
starting to heat up.
An agreement signed at the beginning
of February with a leading solar technology
manufacturer will see the Kingdom jointly
fund a feasibility study for the establish-
ment of a vertically integrated solar panel
factory.
The proposed project —which would
see production start in 2017 — would
process polysilicon into wafers, then turn
them into cells and modules using tech-
nology from agreement partner Belmont’s
SunEdison Inc.
The cost of the scheme is estimated to
be $6.4 billion. The size of the project is
impressive — initial output is planned to
be three gigawatts of electricity annually,
approximately equal to that of three nuclear
reactors.
Growth of solar energy
The agreement has been signed with the OPEC Member
Country’spublicinvestmentfundandgovernment-owned
Sanabilinvestments, andsupportsgrowthofsolar energy
intheKingdom,anaimstronglybackedbythegovernment.
If all goes as planned, the plant would be located in
the Kingdom’s northern region — at Wa’ad Al Shammal.
TheMinistry of PetroleumandMineral Resources has
already agreed to supply the plant with natural gas, while
the country’s electrical utility will provide power.
“We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within
the Kingdom and the region,” said Ahmad Chatila, Chief
Executive Officer of SunEdison, in a statement. “This pro-
ject will support that growth, and the growth aspirations
of SunEdison and our Saudi partners.”
This is in line with statements from the beginning of
October 2013, when Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, one of
the Kingdom’s top spokesmen, told the Global Economic
Symposium that the country, one of OPEC’s Founder
Shutterstock
Members, had plans to become 100 per cent powered
by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy.
He admitted that this could take some time, but he
hoped to see this change by the end of his lifetime.
Meanwhile, the Saudi government has set a goal of
providingone-thirdofthe country’selectricityfromrenew-
able resources by 2032.
If the Kingdom can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels
—one half of its electricity is still produced by burning oil
— it could free up more oil for export. The move towards
alternative energy is also part of the plan to diversity the
Gulf country’s economy.
Saudi Arabia has plans to spend billions of dollars
over the next two decades to install more than 50 GW
of renewable power at home, according to the United
StatesDepartmentofEnergy’sNationalRenewableEnergy
Laboratory, which is working together with the Kingdom.
Much of this will be concentrated in solar generat-
ing capacity and would represent more GW of renewable
energy than the amount that was installed in the entire
world as of 2012.
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