Saudi Arabia aims for 10% renewables by 2023

Saudi Arabia intends to produce 10% of its electricity via renewable sources by 2023, the country’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih confirmed earlier this week.

Fittingly, Al-Falih made the statement at the Saudi Arabia Renewable Energy Investment Forum in Riyadh. It will form a major plank in the country’s plans to restructure and diversify its economy under the Vision 2030 program. The corresponding National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) has plans to introduce 3.45 GW to the power grid by 2020 through photovoltaic (PV) solar and wind systems, rising to 9.5 GW by 2023.

The Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) last week shortlisted 27 companies for a 300-MW PV solar project that will be located in Sakaka in al-Jouf province and 24 companies for a 400-MW wind farm to be built in Domat al-Jandal in the same province.

Falih told the conference that bidding is now open for the 300-MW solar power plant at Sakaka.

“Our goal is clear,” Falih said. “We are pursuing one of the most ambitious renewable energy development programs globally, installing 9.5 GW of wind, solar and other technologies over the next six years… We are seeking for the Kingdom, in the medium term, to become a nation that develops, manufactures and exports the advanced technologies of renewable energy production,” he said.

Beginning 2017 with a markedly more proactive approach to clean energy, Saudi Arabia has said it plans to develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years in a program that will require an investment of up to US$50 billion.

In addition to the Sakaka PV plant, a tender for the Domat al-Jandal 400-MW wind farm is expected to be opened during the fourth quarter of the year, with another tender for 600 MW of solar expected to follow soon thereafter.

The introduction of renewables to Saudi Arabia is meant to help the country reduce its dependence on liquid fuels for power generation. During the summer months, the country can burn up to 700,000 bpd of crude oil in order to meet demand for electricity. Currently, Saudi Arabia generates about 200 MW of energy from renewable sources, of an estimated 55 GW of installed capacity.

A total of 128 international companies applied to take part in round one of the NREP program and a total of 51 were selected. Among those qualifying for the solar tender were ACWA of Dubai, Enel Green Power and EDF Energies Nouvelles, while the wind component included Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Gamesa Energia and Toyota Tsusho Corporation.
In the two tenders, bidders could qualify as managing member or technical member, or both.