Saudi Arabia to generate 5 gigawatts of solar energy by 2020

Mohammad Al-Hussaini, REC Deputy General Manager, said the Kingdom’s demand for energy is expected to peak at 120 gigawatts by 2012 mainly due to many major factors such as highly-diversified industrial expansion that accounts for 61.9 percent of the Kingdom’s GDP and a fast growing population, which is expected to double by 2032.

"Saudi Arabia is currently looking at various alternatives for energy resources that can help boost the country’s power generation and to meet rising electricity demand. We are now seeing solar energy as a likely solution that can meet this jump in electricity demand," he said.

He said energy experts predict that the Kingdom will be able to generate at least five gigawatts of power toward the end of the decade, said Al-Hussaini.

To help meet the growing demand for electricity, the Kingdom is looking to solar power and other non-hydrocarbon sources as strategic options to bolster energy generating capacity at least by 50 percent within the next ten years.

Reports also suggest that the demand for electricity in Saudi Arabia is steadily increasing, with the demand in 2010 reaching 40 gigawatts and is expected to reach 120 gigawatts before 2032.

The utilization of solar energy is part of the Kingdom’s continuous efforts to target renewable energy in a $100-billion spending drive aimed at meeting a predicted increase in electricity demand and reducing its dependence on crude. Riyadh-based King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) is currently spearheading solar initiatives, with the aim of opening the world’s largest solar- powered desalination plant by 2012 in Al-Khafji. When completed, the project will supply 30,000 cubic meters of clean water per day and will use newly developed membrane technology and ultra-high concentred solar energy photovoltaic technology.

Al-Hussaini said REC is preparing to organize the Saudi Energy – the 14th International Show for Electricity, Lighting, Power Generation, Water Technology, and HVAC from May 29 to June 1, 2011, at Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

This latest edition of Saudi Arabia’s leading energy trade fair will comprise four concurrent events focusing on Electricity, Lighting, Power Generation, Water Technology briefly referred as ‘ELAW.’

The event will showcase the latest equipment, services and best practices to help the Kingdom formulate efficient solutions to its energy challenge, said Al-Hussaini.

Al-Hussaini said the Saudi Energy exhibition seeks to act as a strategic platform to showcase key energy-related solutions. This year’s edition will be a key event for stakeholders in several inter-connected industries offering them networking and take advantage of business and sales opportunities not only in the Kingdom but throughout the Middle East, said Al-Hussaini.

Saudi Energy 2011 will also feature Saudi ELENEX, The 14th International Electrical Engineering, Power Generation and Distribution Exhibition; Saudi Luminex, the 11th International Trade Show for Lighting Equipment; Saudi Aircon, the 12th International Exhibition on Air Conditioning, Heating, Ventilation and Refrigeration; and Saudi Water Tech, The 9th International Exhibition for Water Technology, Desalination Plants and Accessories. Also to be held under the show is the Electricity Efficiency Forum – the International Conference on Energy Conservation – which will run under the patronage of Abdullah Al-Hussayen, Minister of Water and Electricity.