Riyadh- Advancing renewable energy in the desert nation, Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday moving forward with the first of a kind wind energy project.
The move comes to embolden the private sector’s contribution to the vital domain of green energy.
Energy and industry ministry offices released a statement on receiving bids for the “Dumat al-Jandal” energy project in Al-Jawf province, expected to let out an average of 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity produced by wind turbines.
Requests to qualify for the 400 MW wind project in the north of the kingdom will close on Aug. 10, and proposals will be received from Aug. 29. Bidding closes in January next year, the ministry’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) said.
Saudi Arabia plans to develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of a $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption. The country will produce 10 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2023, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in April.
“As we enter the second half of 2017, we remain committed to ensuring our ambitious program remains on-track to deliver the value and opportunities targeted,” Al-Falih said in the statement.
The government has announced plans to offer tenders for renewable energy projects to generate 700 megawatts this year. The country sought bids in April for a 300-megawatt solar project and aims to announce a winner in November, the ministry said.
Winning bidders will build, own and operate the power plants in partnership with the government; the Dumat al-Jandal project will be backed by a 20-year power purchase agreement and Sakaka, by a 25-year agreement.
Developing renewable energy is key to displace high-value oil it would rather export. It will also help the kingdom boost local manufacturing and create jobs.
Saudi Arabia aims to generate 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from renewable energy annually by 2023 involving 60 projects. The renewables initiative involves investment estimated between $30 billion and $50 billion. Shehri said he expects solar projects to be dominant in the near future.
The ministry has said the first round will be to generate 700 MW of renewable energy followed by 1.02 GW in the second round which will be split into 620 MW solar and 400 MW wind whose bidding could happen between the fourth quarter of this year and first quarter of 2018.
The 620 MW Shehri said will not be one site. It could be broken down into 2-3 projects.