Saudi Arabia’s 300 MW Sakaka solar plant comes online

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Saudi energy group ACWA has announced the completion of the 300 MW Sakaka solar project.

The plant, Saudi Arabia’s second operational solar park, was grid connected a month and a half ahead of schedule and has begun a commercial operation pilot phase, ACWA announced in a press release.

“The solar project has established a 100% local employment rate within the first year of operation, with 90% of the workforce comprised by the youth of [the] Al Jouf region,” said the Saudi power company. “Additionally, Sakaka PV IPP [independent power producer] registered over 30% of contractual local content during the construction and development phases.”

The project was tendered by the kingdom’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) in February 2017 alongside 400 MW of wind power capacity. Some 11 months later, REPDO announced it had shortlisted bids by ACWA, a consortium formed by Japan’s Marubeni Corp, Khaled Ahmed Juffali Energy & Utilities Limited and Axia Power Holdings BV for the tender’s final phase. That came after ACWA submitted the second lowest bid, offering a final solar electricity price of SAR0.08872/kWh ($0.0236) with the lowest – the SAR0.06697/kWh submitted by a consortium formed by UAE solar developer Masdar and French utility EDF – rejected before the final phase of the procurement. The Marubeni consortium offered SAR0.09976. REPDO had selected 27 companies in early April to proceed to the request for proposals stage of the tender.

ACWA secured SAR1.2 billion ($320 million) for the project a year ago.

The Sakaka project was the first large scale PV facility tendered by Saudi Arabia. In January, REPDO launched a tender for the development and construction of seven new solar projects with a combined generation capacity of 1,515 MW. That procurement exercise has so far attracted interest from more than 250 companies. The tender is part of the second phase of the kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program.