Saudi Arabia targeting $109 billion investment for solar

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Media reports have indicated that Mecca is planning to step up its solar game. Citing Mayor, Osama al-Bar, Bloomberg says there are plans afoot to build and operate renewable energy facilities worth 385 GW annually, including 100 MW of solar capacity.

A group of up to 20 bidders are expected to compete for the projects, which are scheduled to be announced next January 5. "We want to be first city that owns power plants and hopefully the first in the Muslim world," said al-Bar in an interview.

Overall, Bloomberg reports that Saudi’s central government is looking to attract investment of up to $109 billion to establish a solar industry in the region, with the aim of harnessing a third of the kingdom’s power needs from solar energy. "The target is almost as much as the $136 billion invested worldwide in solar energy last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance."

At the start of May, the governments King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) announced Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plans to install 41 GW worth of solar by 2032. The program aims to "catapult Saudi Arabia into the group of global leaders in renewable-energy development."

Of the 41 GW of solar, photovoltaics is expected to comprise 16 GW, while concentrated solar power (CSP) will encompass 25 GW.

At the time it was said that Saudi intends to introduce a minimum of two competitive bidding rounds, which would see around 5 GW of utility-scale solar projects installed. The first bidding round is expected to include 1.1 GW of photovoltaics and 900 MW of CSP. The first tenders are currently being prepared and are scheduled for release in early 2013.