Saudia Arabia: New energy minister slashes solar targets

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While the Middle East Solar Industry Association is not yet panicking, Saudia Arabia’s Energy Minister has said the country’s 2040 renewable energy target has been scaled back from 50% to 10%. A 50% renewable goal would result in some 41 GW of solar being added in Saudia Arabia by 2040.

Bloomberg reports that Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the kingdom will reduce its renewable ambitions, instead focusing on a vast expansion of gas-fired generation and production.

“Our energy mix has shifted more toward gas, so the need for high targets from renewable sources isn’t there anymore,” Al-Falih said, in reporting from Bloomberg. “The previous target of 50% from renewable sources was an initial target and it was built on high oil prices” near $150 a barrel, he said.

MESIA President Hadi Tahboub remains cautiously optimistic for both solar PV and concentrated solar power prospects in Saudi Arabia, noting that "the energy ministry reshuffle only took place very recently."

"The [solar] industry sees that there would still remain serious strides projected on the path of solar energy by the Saudi government, it’s simply a matter of time for the kingdom-wide strategy and framework to gel," Tahboub told pv magazine. "The situation would have certainly been a far different affair a year ago or more; today, no government can ignore the major leaps in both optimized technology and lucrative prices that solar energy presents today."

Tahboub said that the solar industry in the region is "holding its breath" on upcoming renewable energy tenders, to be issued by the Saudi Electricity Company. 50 MW of PV is expected to be tendered under the anticipated program.

"To have scaled back or increased, the fact remains that the Saudi Kingdom is taking tangible steps forward and that is a clear marker of this awakening regional giant finally embracing renewable energy," said Tahboub.