Renewable Projects Are Booming In Saudi Arabia

National Economy

The population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is approximately 36.18 million people[1]. In 2021, 100% of the people in this country in the Middle East had access to electricity[2].

In 2022, Saudi Arabia’s economy was ranked 19th in gross domestic product (GDP) in the world[3]. The country’s economy is dependent[4] on the export of crude oil, refined oil, ethylene polymers, propylene polymers, acyclic alcohols, ammonia, tug boats.

Environmental Policies

In 2016, Saudi Arabia signed the Paris Climate Agreement[5], committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 278 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.

In 2020, the Saudi Arabian government launched Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which set the goal of producing 50% of the nation’s electricity by 2030[6].

Power Generation Capabilities

In 2021, the state-owned, Saudi Electricity Company used natural gas (60.55 %), oil (39.22 %) and renewable energy (0.23 %) to generate electricity in the country[7]. Solar was the only type of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Saudi Arabia in 2021.

Recent renewable energy projects in Saudi Arabia include:

  • 1,800 MW Wind Tender – In September 2022, the Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) launched a tender for three wind projects which will have a total capacity of 1,800 MW.
  • 1,500 MW Solar Tender – In September 2022, the SPPC launched a tender for two solar projects which will have a total capacity of 1,300 MW. The first solar project will be built in the west-central region of the country and have a capacity of 1,100 MW. The second project will be built in the northern region of the country and will have a capacity of 400 MW.
  • 1,500 Solar Project – Saudi engineering firm, Al-Wasat Al-Badeel, and Saudi Aramco Power Company are continuing work on Sudair solar photovoltaic plant at a site approximately 75 northwest of the nation’s capital, Riyadh. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 400 MW Wind Project – In August 2022, EDF Renewable Energy commissioned the Dumat al Jandal wind project at a site approximately 560 miles north of Riyadh.
  • 320 MW Solar + 50 MW Energy Storage – Saudi power company, ACWA began is continuing work on the Al Shuaibah Two solar plus energy storage project at a site approximately 450 miles northwest of Riyadh. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2025.
  • 300 MW Solar Project In April 2021, Saudi power company, ACWA commissioned the Sakaka solar plant at a site approximately 615 miles northwest of Riyadh.
  • 300 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, French utility, EDF Renewable Energy and United Arab Emirate renewable energy company, Masdar commissioned the Jeddah solar plant at a site approximately 575 miles southeast of Riyadh.
  • 110 MW Solar Project – Saudi Arabian company, Alfanar is continuing work on solar project which will power the Al Jubail 2 water desalination plant on the east coast of the country.

Conclusions

Oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia[8] in 1938, approximately 250 miles northeast of the nation’s capital, Riyadh. In 2021, Saudi Arabia was the 2nd largest crude oil[9] producing country in the world.

The export of crude oil, petrochemicals, and refined petroleum are the cornerstones of Saudi Arabia’s economy. In 2020, Saudi Arabia exported[10] U.S. $95.7 Billion in crude oil, U.S. $19.76 Billion in petrochemicals, and U.S. $10.7 Billion in refined petroleum.

Saudi Arabia has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and biomass. The nation’s renewable energy resources could easily replace all the natural gas and oil fueled power plants, which provided 99.77 % of the nation’s electricity in 2021.

Why is Saudi Arabia actively developing renewable energy? Economics pure and simple!

From 1999 to 2019, Saudi Arabia’s annual consumption of electricity[11] increased 77.1 % due to a steadily increasing population and the expansion of the nation’s petrochemical facilities. The per capita consumption of electricity in Saudi Arabia also increase by 37.7 %  over the same period of time.

Saudi Arabia’s economy is based on the export of crude oil, petrochemicals, and refined petroleum. Oil is not a renewable resource and Saudi Arabia’s oil production has been steadily declining for the last twenty years.

The Saudi Arabia’s plan is to dramatically increase the use renewable energy to preserve the country’s oil and petrochemical exports. Renewable projects are booming in Saudi Arabia.

 Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.

[1] Saudi Arabia Population (2023) –  January 15, 2023, www.worldmeters.info

[2] World Bank, “Access To Electricity (% Population) – Saudi Arabia”

[3] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2022 – Worldometer

[4] The Observatory of Economic Complexity – Saudi Arabia

[5] Carbon Brief “Paris 2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[6] Arab News, “The benefits of Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy push” September 8, 2020

[7] Our World In Data, Saudi Arabia: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

[8] Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi Arabia Facts and Figures

[9] Crude Oil Producing Countries 2021 – World Population Review

[10] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Saudi Arabia Exports

[11] Our World In Data, Saudi Arabia: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

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