The nation of Saudi Arabia is bordered by the Red Sea, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Persian Gulf, Gatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. The population of the Saudi Arabia is approximately 37.00 million people.
In 2021, Saudi Arabia’s economy was ranked 18th in gross domestic product (GDP) in the world. The country’s economy is dependent on the export of crude oil, refined petroleum, ethylene polymers, propylene polymers, acyclic alcohols, sea vessels, and tug boats.
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.
Power Generation Capabilities
In 2021, 100% of the people in Saudi Arabia had access to electricity. In 2022, the state-owned, Saudi Electricity Company used natural gas (67.1%), oil (32.7%) and renewable energy (0.2%) to generate electricity in the country. Solar is the dominant type of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Saudi Arabia.
Recent renewable energy projects in Saudi Arabia include:
- 2,200 MW Solar Project – Multinational joint venture company, NEOM Green Hydrogen Company is continuing work on a massive solar project at a site approximately 550 miles northwest of the nation’s capital, Riyadh. The solar project will be used to produce green hydrogen for export.
- 1,800 MW Wind Tender – The Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) is currently evaluating bids from a September 2022 tender for three onshore wind projects with a total capacity of 1,800 MW.
- 1,500 MW Solar Tender – SPPC is currently evaluating bids from a September 2022 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.
Oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938, approximately 250 miles northeast of the nation’s capital, Riyadh. In 2023, Saudi Arabia was the 3rd largest crude oil producing country in the world.
The export of crude oil, petrochemicals, and refined petroleum are the cornerstones of Saudi Arabia’s economy. In 2021, Saudi Arabia exported U.S. $138 Billion in crude oil, U.S. $35.9 Billion in refined petroleum, and U.S. $25 Billion in petrochemicals.
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 99.8% of the nation’s electricity in 2022.
Why is Saudi Arabia actively developing renewable energy? Economics pure and simple! From 1999 to 2019, Saudi Arabia’s annual consumption of electricity 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. As a result, renewable projects are booming in Saudi Arabia.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
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, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a diverse range of energy issues.