Saudi Arabia plans 2.6 GW solar park near Mecca

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The governor of Mecca Province in Saudi Arabia, Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud has signed a memorandum of understanding with the country’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid Al-Falih for the construction of a giant solar park in the region.

According to an official statement from the ministry, the 2.6 GW Faisaliah Solar Power Project will be built in several stages and will be developed by the ministry itself in partnership with the Development Authority of Mecca.

Only 600 MW of the project is expected to be tendered by the Saudi Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO), with the procurement exercise planned to be launched this year. The remaining 2 GW, instead, will be implemented directly by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is a government-run sovereign wealth fund along with unspecified partners.

“The MoU is in line with the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2030 and the efforts of the Ministry of Energy to diversify the energy system to reach a sustainable mix that benefits from renewable energy sources, in addition to optimizing the use of hydrocarbon and mineral resources to achieve sustainable development of the national economy”, the Saudi government stated.

No further details were released on the time frame of the project or the upcoming tender.

In early January, the Saudi Government said it intended to tender around 2.2 GW of solar in 2019, after it announced a new 40 GW solar energy target by 2030. Later at the end of the same month, REPDO launched the tender for the development and construction of seven new solar independent power producer projects with a combined potential capacity of 1.515 GW, a procurement exercise which has so far attracted the interest of more than 250 companies.

The latter and the upcoming tender for the above-mentioned 600 MW section of the new project in Mecca are part of the the second round of the Saudi National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), which this year is expected to allocate around 2.2 GW of solar capacity.

In the first round, around 700 MW of renewable energy capacity was allocated, with solar having a 300 MW slice in the form of the Sakaka PV project. This tender attracted global attention as it prompted the lowest bid for solar ever submitted, with French energy giant EDF bidding a levelized cost of electricity of only SAR 0.06697 ($0.0178)/kWh. The record bid was rejected, however, with the successful offer tendered by Saudi energy giant ACWA, at SAR0.08872/kWh.