Saudi Arabia seeks expansion in renewable energy
Currency Selling Buying RIYADH—Saudi Arabia will witness a great expansion in renewable energy, as estimates indicate that electricity from solar power would reach 66,400MW by 2023. Expansion plans fall within Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030, which is translated in the National Transformation Program, a blueprint to prepare the Kingdom for the post-oil era. Ahmed Nada, vice chairman and Middle-East regional director of First Solar, told local newspaper that Saudi Arabia’s natural characteristics allow it to produce solar energy to cover the Kingdom’s needs in electricity and other related uses. He added that Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 has revealed a detailed strategy that highlights the country’s strengths and potential capacities in relying on renewable energy due to its geographical and climatic characteristics.
Nada said that the Kingdom’s main goal was to multiply productive capacities in renewable energy by taking advantage of the future decline in costs, increased competence levels and openness to latest technologies. Nada noted that the Saudi government was keen on preserving competitiveness in the renewable energy market, by gradually liberating oil prices, which would help Saudi Arabia acquire efficient and modern technologies in renewable energy production. He added that the vision reflects the Kingdom’s ambitions to become a leading hub in the production of renewable energy, stressing the importance of Saudi investment plans in research and development.
Energy expert Osama Al-Othman said that Saudi Arabia can rely on its local production of steel, cables and other materials to expand its solar energy industry. He also highlighted the need to increase and consolidate partnerships between the private and public sectors and to review the legal and organizational framework to smooth the growth of private investments in the field of renewable energy.
Al-Othman said that the government initiative to expand the production of renewable energy would promote partnerships with qualified experts in this field and allow the Kingdom to overcome capacity-building challenges that could be faced in other industrial markets. Economic expert Abdul Halim Mohaisen told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia was seeking to invest SR400 billion in solar energy in the coming years in order to cover the increased demand for electricity which is estimated at 10 percent annually.
Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco and GE are partnering to install Saudi Arabia’s first Wind Turbine at the Turaif Bulk Plant, located in the north-west of the Kingdom. The initiative is in line with Saudi Vision 2030 as endorsed by the Saudi Cabinet that has set an initial target of generating 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy. The project marks the first regional installation of GE’s ground-breaking model 2.75-120 Wind Turbine, which has been specifically customized for the Kingdom’s climatic conditions.
GE’s Wind Turbine is a digital industrial solution that draws on the Industrial Internet platform by analyzing tens of data points every second to achieve higher levels of energy output and greater operational efficiency. Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, vice president of Power Systems, Saudi Aramco, said: “We are committed to efficiently meeting the Kingdom’s energy demand through our fuel optimization program and by supporting renewable energy development. The demo installation of GE’s Wind Turbine will enable the Saudi Aramco and GE teams to build expertise in executing wind projects in the Kingdom.” Hisham Albahkali, GE’s president & CEO for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, said: “The installation of GE’s Wind Turbine by Saudi Aramco, our long-term partner, underlines our commitment to promoting renewable energy in the Kingdom. This stateof-the-art wind turbine is designed for challenging conditions. Building on our global operating experience in desert areas, we have worked with Saudi Aramco’s team to customize the turbine and optimize its performance for the Kingdom.—Agencies