Saudi Arabia on course to become renewable energy leader –report

Saudi Arabia on course to become renewable energy leader –report
Published: 22 January 2020 - 3:37 p.m.
By: Baset Asaba

Saudi Arabia is on course to become a regional leader in the race to take up renewable energy, according to a new study.

According to the Solar Outlook Report 2020, prepared by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), Saudi Arabia and Oman have joined the UAE, Morocco and Egypt as leaders in the renewables race.

“Saudi Arabia is now in the third year of implementation of its massive target of 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation by 2030,” it said.

Saudi Arabia’s growing PV market continues to gain momentum, said MESIA, which highlighted the 300 MW Sakaka PV plant – the kingdom’s biggest to date.

The regional body also noted the Renewable Energy Project Development Office had asked 60 pre-qualified companies to submit bids for “six solar energy schemes with a combined capacity of 1.5 GW” late last year, in addition to six projects the authorities started tendering this month.

However, while the country remains one of the most promising regional PV markets, the Saudi authorities still need to tackle key challenges, MESIA said.

The government must work on “collaborating more effectively” with the private sector, the report advised.

The study also suggested that the kingdom should improve its regulatory environment and work to propose new business models to unlock the potential of its fledgling commercial and industrial solar sector.

Martine Mamlouk, secretary-general of MESIA, said that investment in solar energy is evident across MENA countries. “Saudi Arabia has a target of almost 60 gigawatts of renewable energy, out of which 40 gigawatts are solar,” she told Arab News.

“This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of diversification and Vision 2030. While the industry is reaching grid parity, it is great to see the deployment of new innovative technologies to increase efficiency of systems, production management and grids.”

Upcoming solar projects in the kingdom include Madinah, Rafh, Qurayyat, Al-Faisaliah, Rabigh as well as Jeddah, Mahd Al-Dahab, Al-Rass, SAAD and Wadi Ad-Dawasir, along with Layla and PIF.

Saudi Arabia’s energy demand has been rising steadily, with consumption increasing by 60 percent in the past 10 years, according to management consultants Frost & Sullivan. Demand for electricity in 2019 reached 62.7 GW and is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030.

The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion, said MESIA. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion.

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