Saudi solar plans taking shape

Eight months after releasing its white paper outlining ambitious alternative energy goals for Saudi Arabia, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA.CARE), the agency overseeing the country’s energy strategy, has established the necessary framework to implement renewable energy projects.

In an article published Tuesday in Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News, Abdulhadi Al Mureeh, executive director of National Solar Systems, said KA.CARE had "completed laying out the legal, organizational and economic basis for launching alternative energy projects in cooperation and coordination with government authorities like the Ministries of Finance and Petrol, Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA), King Abdulaziz City, ARAMCO Saudi Arabia, Saudi Electric Company and other entities."

Al Mureeh added that the country was now "awaiting the activation of the legislations that will lead to new industries" in Saudi Arabia through direct investments that exceed SAR 400 billion ($106.7 billion) over the next 20 years.

The Saudi government’s plans foresee 41 GW of solar power by 2032. Of that, concentrated solar power (CSP) plants would contribute 25 GW and PV facilities 16 GW. In the next five years, the nation¬ís grid is expected to connect some 3 GW from solar plants and up to 17 GW by 2023, including 10 GW from CSP facilities and 7 GW from PV installations.

The plan is expected to boost the local economy and generate thousands of jobs in the country while dramatically decreasing domestic consumption of petroleum reserves.

Arab News said Saudi officials were also looking at other ways to support solar energy, including government incentives, employing specialist teams to help spread solar technology in the Saudi market and intensifying educational campaigns about alternative energy through state-supported seminars and exhibitions.