Saudi Arabia’s 300 MW solar tender may conclude with lowest bid ever

The Saudi Renewable Energy Development Office (REPDO) has conducted the opening of technical bids for Round 1 of Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) in an online streaming webinar held yesterday. Through this bidding round, the REPDO intends to bring online 700 MW of renewable energy generation capacity, of which 400 MW will be for wind power and 300 MW for solar.

Concerning the solar energy quota, all of which is planned to be deployed near Sakaka, a city in northwestern Saudi Arabia, REPDO said that the lowest bid was submitted by a consortium formed by UAE-based solar developer Masdar and French power utility EDF. The two companies have offered to build all the tendered capacity at a LCOE of 0.06697 SAR ($0.0178) per kWh, which, if accepted, would become the lowest offer for a solar energy project ever seen globally.

The second lowest bid was proposed by Saudi power group ACWA, which offered a LCOE of 0.08872 SAR ($0.0236) per kWh, another price that would be a candidate to become the world’s lowest bid for large-scale solar if accepted, as well as the 0.09976 SAR ($0.0266) per kWh offered by Japanese conglomerate Marubeni, which was the third lowest bid of the tender.

In addition, another four bidders offered prices under the $0.03 per kWh threshold: French energy group Engie with 0.10393 SAR ($0.0277) per kWh; Japanese engineering company JGC Corporation with 0.10441 SAR ($0.0278) per kWh; Japan-based industrial conglomerate Mitsui with 0.10710 SAR ($0.0285) per kWh; French oil group and SunPower’s largest shareholder Total with 0.10722 SAR ($0.0285) per kWh, and Cobra Energy with 0.12625 SAR ($0.0336) per kWh.

The selected projects will be backed by 25-year PPA. According to Reuters, criteria set out in the request for proposals include a 30% local content requirement. Preselected developers will be revealed by the end of November, while the tender’s winners will be announced in January 2018.

REPDO, a part of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, had shortlisted 27 companies in early April to proceed to the Request for Proposals stage of the tender. The initial request for qualifications was issued in February, and closed on 20th March 2017.

The tender is part of the first round of Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), which is expected to bring online 9.5 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by 2023.