Saudi Arabia: 500 kW solar plant to come online soon

01. June 2011 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Jonathan Gifford

The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and Showa Shell Sekiyu have signed an agreement on the operation of a solar power plant on Farasan Island in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia. The project sets the stage for future development of solar in the Kingdom.

Beach on Farasan island with lapping waves and small boat.

The 500 kW photovoltaic plant is located on Farasan Island. It is seen as pilot project for more solar in Saudi Arabia. Image: Flickr/Richard Messenger.

Solar Frontier, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese arm of the Dutch oil giant Shell, has completed the installation of its 500 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic project on Farasan Island. It is expected to commence production soon.

The plant is considered to be a pilot project and was developed with the support of the Japanese Minstry of Economy, Technology and Industry (METI).

Farasan Island is at present reliant on diesel for power generation and the solar plant, located on the Farasan Diesel Power Generation Plant site, will save not only on diesel costs, but also on transportation costs. Diesel must be shipped to Farasan from the mainland and the 500 kW plant is predicted to save 28,000 barrels of diesel during its life span.

"[We] will work closely with SEC as the plant comes on line and [it] will serve as a hub for expanding development in Saudia Arabia," said Solar Frontier’s Atsuhiko Hirano.

The Saudis hope to use this project as a launching pad for further solar power generation projects, said SEC President and CEO Ali Al-Barrak. "Our work with Solar Frontier gives us great confidence in the potential of solar energy in the SEC energy resource mix."

Solar Frontier will provide technical support to the SEC with METI and Showa Shell Sekiyu cooperation. Japanese governmental support of the project, through METI, is also of note given the controversial role the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda is playing in the current solar debate in that country.


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