Renewable energy is increasingly becoming a new sector in the Kingdom and is expected to expand until the new renewable energy program can reach its target by 2023. Saudi Arabia’s renewable program involves investment of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023. It has invited investors to submit requests to qualify for the first round. Saudi Arabia is targeting 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023 in line with Vision 2030, an economic reform plan launched last year to diversify the economy beyond oil, by using renewable energy to balance economic needs towards environmental goals, as it has considerable solar power potential and is eager to reduce its use of fossil fuels. With its vast landscape, featuring empty stretches of desert that can host solar arrays and vast deposits of clear sand that can be used in the manufacture of silicon photovoltaic cells and benefiting from approximately 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, Saudi Arabia is highly suited to the development of solar energy. Major Saudi Arabian organizations forecasts that the cost of solar production will drop to $0.10 per kWh in the period 2010-20 in the GCC, making it cheaper than diesel-fired generation and placing it on par with gas.
Riyadh-based research center has been providing the best practices and R&D in atomic energy, they have announced plans to build 16 nuclear reactors by 2030, and aims to have the first two reactors in up and running shortly, and then to establish two nuclear reactors in each following year. The estimated cost of each reactor would be US$7 billion and Saudi Arabia plans to cover 20 per cent of its electricity needs using nuclear energy.
The assessment showed that the cities of Dhulum and Arar were potential sites for off-grid, remote wind turbines. Research also concluded that hybrid based power generation would be a more viable and cost-effective approach for remotely located communities that need an independent source of electrical energy where it is uneconomical to extend the grid.
The Riyadh-based research center stated that hydrocarbons would remain a prime element in the energy mix in 2023, by an estimation of 60GW. This will also be supported with nuclear energy at 17.6GW, solar at 41GW, of which 16GW will be generated through the use of photovoltaic cells and the balance of 25GW by concentrated solar power, wind at 9GW, and waste-to-energy at 3GW and geothermal at 1GW.
The Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources stated that it would be requesting qualifications for the first round of projects. Comprising 300 MW solar and 400 MW wind power, these tenders are planned to be awarded shortly. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report estimated that achieving the GCC renewable energy targets could create an average of 140,000 direct jobs per year.
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