Saudi Arabia to become major solar power exporter under new plan

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Time: 16  April, 2018

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to transform its solar power production, in line with the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the country’s economy and end its reliance on oil.
Under the Solar Power Project Plan 2030, the Kingdom expects to produce 200 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
At the launch of the plan, experts said the project will transform the Kingdom into a leading exporter of sustainable energy, thanks to its natural resources and environmentally friendly industries relying on sun, wind, and sand rich in silica.
Solar power will be the world’s largest energy source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.
The Saudi solar initiative will help to diversify the national economy and stimulate investment in non-oil industries. The project will also reduce solar power production costs and create employment opportunities for Saudi workers, with up to 100,000 jobs in solar power schemes alone.
Meanwhile, King Saud University in Riyadh has joined a research project with Japan and Peru to monitor changes in the sun and their effects on Earth.
The Kingdom’s history of solar research goes back 38 years, when King Salman opened the research plant at King Abdul Aziz City — the first solar power site in the Kingdom. The plant provided solar electricity to Uyayna, Jubaila and rural centers near Riyadh.
The solar village, part of a Saudi-US partnership, produces 350 kilowatts of electricity through concentrated photovoltaic complexes.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has outlined Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a “Kingdom of Sustainable Energy” era within five months. In October 2017, Riyadh hosted the beginning of the development of the strategy (Solar Plan 2030) with the participation of the Public Investment Fund and Softbank Vision Fund.
On March 28, during his groundbreaking visit to the US, the crown prince signed a memorandum of understanding with Softbank Vision Fund to create a plant for the project, which would be completed and ready to start production of solar energy by early 2019.
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, said: “Saudi Arabia’s current energy needs are 75 gigawatts. The 2030 solar plan would enable the Kingdom to export surplus electricity and thus provide alternative energy to the Kingdom’s oil.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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