Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Germany is keen to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in the field of solar energy, according to a German official, as a business delegation from the country visits the Kingdom to boost bilateral trade and investment.
Herbert Jacobi, a representative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Germany has “proposed to Saudi investors the opportunity to invest in the solar energy sector in Germany, incentivizing this by offering a 15-percent return rate on capital invested, through government contracts lasting 20 years.”
Haitham Khalid Buzu, a Saudi investor in Germany, told Asharq Al-Awsat Germany was “moving toward greater cooperation with Saudi Arabia on solar and wind energy, which are cheaper and safer sources than nuclear energy,” especially in light of its recent push to cut its reliance on nuclear energy.
“Four years ago Germany decided halt operations at nuclear power stations used to produce electricity, and by 2020 it will stop using nuclear energy entirely and will replace it with alternative energy sources, especially solar, renewable and wind energy,” he said.
In addition to opportunities for investment in Germany, Buzu said both countries had also already began a number of projects together in this sector in Saudi Arabia, including signing agreements to build two solar energy power stations for the Kingdom’s state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco and a solar-powered desalination plant for the Ministry of Water and Electricity.
This comes as a German delegation of over 30 business leaders from the North Rhine-Westphalia region visits the Kingdom this week.
The delegation will today meet in the industrial city of Jubail with representatives of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce.
The delegation has also been attending a three-day investment conference in Riyadh and Jubail held by the German–Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs.
The conference seeks to boost joint projects and investment between Saudi Arabia and the North Rhine-Westphalia region in a number of sectors including chemicals and steel manufacture, in addition to alternative energy.
Andreas Hergenrother, German commissioner for manufacturing and trade for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen, said total bilateral trade between both countries reached 46.5 billion Saudi riyals (12.4 billion US dollars) in 2013, with German exports to Saudi Arabia accounting for 95 percent of the total.
He said the North Rhine-Westphalia region was a magnet for foreign direct investment, drawing in 22 billion euros (22 billion dollars) a year, and accounting for 27.5 percent of all foreign direct investment to Germany.