Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat—Economists and investors have highlighted the importance of expediting the launch of alternative energy projects in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, in order to relieve its dependence on oil.
Experts informed Asharq Al-Awsat that it was important to find and implement alternative energy projects in the country because the consumption of conventional fuel costs Saudi Arabia a third of its oil revenue on average.
Walid Al-Shu’aibi, a member of the Industry Committee at the Eastern Province’s Chamber of Commerce, said that many industrialists in the country are exerting real efforts to find and promote alternative energy, highlighting the importance of reducing dependency on oil-produced energy.
Shu’aibi informed Asharq Al-Awsat: “With the help of a number of industrialists in the Eastern Province, we have been able to launch a project to produce polysilicon, a raw material used in the manufacture of solar panels,” adding, “Our reliance on oil as the only source of energy is a big mistake, a fact which has been recognized by the Saudi leadership. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has ordered the provision of funding for alternative energy projects and has set the year 2025 as a deadline to implement many projects that will reduce the reliance on oil.”
Shu’aibi said, “The industrial investment fund and the Petroleum Ministry have provided great support to accomplish this project which is a confirmation of the Saudi government’s determination to find other sources of energy.” He added that alternative energy projects will have a great economic impact and will provide employment for thousands of Saudi youth.
Meanwhile, National Solar Systems chairman, Abdelhadi Al-Murih, said any adverse effects on the Saudi budget or international markets from a potential reduction in oil supply would dissipate within 10 years. Saudi Arabia’s move towards alternative energy can be demonstrated by the establishment of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy in 2010, marking a radical shift in the kingdom’s energy strategy.
Turki Al-Haqil, a Saudi economist living in Washington, said the Saudi government was obliged to take more stringent steps in restructuring the energy sector, particularly to direct subsidies in this sector—which reach USD 36 billion a year—to those who deserve it.
Al-Haqil said if things continues as they are, energy consumption in Saudi Arabia would reach 7.8 million barrels per day. This summer, Saudi Arabia is set to import around 110,000 barrels of gasoline, and 295,000 barrels of diesel, per day, in order to provide government-subsidized fuel, adding this is cheaper to import than to produce domestically.
For his part, Mohamed Al-Kahimi, industrial sector investor and member of the Industry Committee at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce highlighted the importance of reducing dependence on oil, adding that energy-saving initiatives should be introduced including installing thermal insulation in buildings and the use of energy-saving methods in construction.
He informed Asharq Al-Awsat that it is important to learn from the successful practices in the US and some European states such as Germany, that do not have as much oil, but nevertheless enjoy stable energy sectors.