Saudi Arabia’s futuristic Neom City will not use the cheapest sources of renewable energy, but those with the best chances of being dispatched, due to the storage potential of concentrated solar power. But several issues must be addressed to make the tech viable.

Neom City is a futuristic city that the Saudi Arabian government plans to build in Tabuk region. The $500 billion city will include a range of smart technologies and will serve as a “living laboratory and hub for innovation,” according to its planners. It will also be exclusively powered by renewable energy.

According to a new study from Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, the city could use a mix of solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, and battery energy storage: And all of these sources should be bundled together with artificial intelligence (AI) tech.

“There will be no competition between the different renewable energy technologies and synergies will be the key,” researcher Alberto Boretti told pv magazine.

Boretti said AI will resolve most of the issues related to renewable energy integration, mainly by matching energy demand from individuals and organizations. Concentrated solar power (CSP), which Boretti defined as the only renewable energy source with the added value of dispatchability, will prevail over PV and wind, as it can rely on internal molten salt energy storage, so it won’t need external solutions for storage.

“Once a few technical issues are properly addressed, and a fully functional industrial product is made available, then CSP with internal storage has a better cost for dispatchable electricity,” he said.

He said oversizing large-scale CSP plants will enable the technology to reach a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of $0.075/kWh at Neom City.

, pv-magazine.com