Saudi Arabia is seeking investors for
a $109 billion plan to create a solar industry that generates a
third of the nation’s electricity by 2032, according to
officials at the agency developing the plan.
The world’s largest crude oil exporter aims to have 41,000
megawatts of solar capacity within two decades, said Maher al-
Odan, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and
Renewable Energy. Khalid al-Suliman, vice president for the
organization known as Ka-care, said on May 8 in Riyadh that
nuclear, wind and geothermal would contribute 21,000 megawatts.
“We are not only looking for building solar plants,” al-
Odan said in an interview in Riyadh yesterday. “We want to run
a sustainable solar energy sector that will become a driver for
the domestic energy for years to come.”
The comments highlight the scale of Saudi Arabia’s
ambitions to boost renewable energy use as a way to pare back on
oil consumption used for domestic desalinization and power
plants, potentially saving 523,000 barrels of oil equivalent a
day over the next 20 years.
For the solar panel manufacturers such as First Solar Inc. (FSLR)
and SunPower Corp. (SPWR), the Saudi Arabian market would open a huge
new market as European countries reduce subsidies to keep a lid
on installations. Panel sales may dip this year for the first
time in more than a decade from 27,700 megawatts installed last
year, according to a survey of analysts by Bloomberg on March 9.
Persian Gulf oil producers are seeking to reduce their
reliance on fossil fuels for power generation to maximize
exports of valuable crude and allocate natural gas to
petrochemicals production. Ka-care estimates Saudi Arabia’s peak
electricity demand will reach 121,000 megawatts in the next 20
years, with half of that power generated using hydrocarbon fuel.
Other forms of renewable energy such as nuclear, wind,
geothermal, will only generate 21,000 megawatts of the peak-load
required by 2032, al-Suliman said in his presentation.
Saudi Arabia is considering different options to generate
electricity from nuclear energy, according to al-Suliman. Under
the so-called “Balanced Scenarios”, Saudi Arabia would build
16 nuclear reactors by 2030 with a capacity of 14,000 megawatts
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