Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia Looks for Expansion in Renewable Energy Production | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Thousands of solar panels are pictured generating electricity used at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada May 27, 2009.

Riyadh-Saudi Arabia will witness a great expansion in renewable energy, as estimates indicate that electricity from solar power would reach 66,400 Megawatts by 2023.

Expansion plans fall within Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030, which is translated in the National Transformation Program, a blueprint to prepare the Kingdom for the post-oil era.

Ahmed Nada, Vice Chairman and Middle-East Regional Director of First Solar, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Saudi Arabia’s natural characteristics allow it to produce solar energy to cover the Kingdom’s needs in electricity and other related uses.

He added that Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 has revealed a detailed strategy that highlights the country’s strengths and potential capacities in relying on renewable energy due to its geographical and climatic characteristics.

Nada went on to say that the Kingdom’s main goal was to multiply productive capacities in renewable energy by taking advantage of the future decline in costs, increased competence levels and openness to latest technologies.

Nada noted that the Saudi government was keen on preserving competitiveness in the renewable energy market, by gradually liberating oil prices, which would help Saudi Arabia acquire efficient and modern technologies in renewable energy production. He added that the vision reflects the Kingdom’s ambitions to become a leading hub in the production of renewable energy, stressing the importance of Saudi investment plans in research and development.

Energy expert Osama Al-Othman told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia can rely on its local production of steel, cables and other materials to expand its solar energy industry. He also highlighted the need to increase and consolidate partnerships between the private and public sectors and to review the legal and organizational framework to smooth the growth of private investments in the field of renewable energy.

Al-Othman added that the initiative launched by H.E. King Salman bin Abdulaziz to expand the production of renewable energy would promote partnerships with qualified experts in this field and allow the Kingdom to overcome capacity-building challenges that could be faced in other industrial markets.

Economic expert Dr. Abdul Halim Mohaisen told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia was seeking to invest 400 billion Riyals (106.6 billion USD) in solar energy in the coming years in order to cover the increased demand for electricity which is estimated at 10 percent annually.

Estimates indicate that electricity from solar power production would reach 66.4 thousand Megawatts by 2023, he added.