Saudi Arabia is trying to tie its future to sunlight, another natural resource it has in abundance. The young royal Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants not just to reshape its energy mix at home but also to emerge as a global force in clean power.
The Kingdom Saudi Arabia’s location and climate mean it has plenty of promising sites for solar and wind farms. The renewables strategy finally started to take real shape when Khalid Al Falih took over as energy minister in 2016. Al Falih made solar and wind a priority for the kingdom, and set up a new unit last year to expedite the work. Much of the staff was drawn from the national oil company, Saudi Aramco.
Riyadh on Monday tapped ACWA Power, a Saudi energy company, to build a solar farm that would generate enough electricity to power up to 200,000 homes. The project will cost $300 million and create hundreds of jobs, according to Turki Al Shehri, head of the kingdom’s renewable energy programme.
Saudi Arabia aimed a the renewable energy, not oil only
By the end of the year, Saudi Arabia aims to invest up to $7 billion to develop seven new solar plants and a big wind farm. The country hopes that renewables, which now represent a negligible amount of the energy it uses, will be able to provide as much as 10 percent of its power generation by the end of 2023.
Saudi Arabia’s biggest solar farm in operation covers a parking lot of the national oil company, Saudi Aramco, in Dhahran. Lying just a couple of miles from a fenced-off area honouring the country’s first commercially viable oil well, it generates enough power for a nearby office block. The energy sector experts have pointed in particular to how Saudi young ruler has chosen his preferred companies. When Riyadh produced a shortlist of two firms for the Sakaka project this month, it passed over one that had presented a lower bid than the finalists.