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Saudi Arabia Prepares to Become a Renewables Producer

22 Feb 11:00 by Steve Walia

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The Saudi Arabian government is progressing a new $50 billion push into green energy development. The world's biggest exporter of crude oil is now planning to invest heavily in the development of wind and solar energy in order to move away from fossil fuels and meet growing domestic energy demand from renewable sources.

Green energy bidders are now preparing to submit documentation for lucrative contracts to build new solar and wind plants that will produce 700 MW of energy in total. The submission date for the applications is March 20, and the selections will be confirmed by April 10. Qualified bidders will then be invited to present project offers from April 17 to July.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said that the programme of renewable power development will be sustained in nature, with the aim of diversifying the country's energy mix and catalysing further economic development for Saudi Arabia.

Countries in the Middle East such as the UAE, Morocco, Jordan and Saudi are progressing green energy projects to either slash their reliance on overseas fuel imports or to conserve their valuable reserves of oil that could otherwise be sold to overseas buyers.

Saudi has said that it plans to generate nearly 10Gw of clean energy by 2023, which will need investment totalling $30-$50 billion. The kingdom announced a broader plan in April that would see more nuclear power plants built alongside expanded plans for solar and wind as part of a broad drive to diversify away from fossil fuels as the government's primary source of income.

The two key projects being auctioned off in this round will be a 400 MW wind development in Tabuk province and a 300 MW project in Sakaka. They will help to position Saudi Arabia as a new player in renewables.