In addition to the 41 GW of solar power, 25 GW of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and 16 GW of PV, the Kingdom aims to generate 1 GW of geothermal energy and 9 GW of wind power.
KACARE had earlier announced that over 50 percent of electricity was produced by oil so it drew up plans for the Kingdom to shift to renewable energy. At the time, Saudi Arabia had only 0.003 gigawatts of installed solar energy capacity.
A total of 24 GW of renewable energy is expected by 2020, and 54 GW by 2032. Saudi Arabia’s first solar power plant was commissioned on Oct. 2, 2011, on Farasan Island. It is a 500 kW fixed tilt photovoltaic plant.
A 200 kW rooftop installation has been planned for the Saudi capital, and is expected to generate 330 Mwh per year. 1,100 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaics and 900 megawatts of solar thermal (CSP) have been completed.
“Due to rising oil prices and decreasing cost of utilityscare solar installations, solar power in Saudi Arabia has achieved grid parity and can produce electricity at costs comparable to conventional sources,” experts said.
However, observers ask how the Kingdom so dependent on conventional energy sources for its power demand could achieve such a transformation. Establishing a time-line with long-term policies is at the top of the list, industry sources claimed.
Keisuke Sadamori, director of the energy markets and security directorate at the International Agency (IEA), said: “One of the key messages from the Medium Term Renewable Energy. Market Report 2013 by the IEA is that policy uncertainty is the largest risk for renewable investment.”
He added that every country, including the Kingdom, should introduce long term policies to provide a predictable and reliable framework to support renewable deployment. Rasheed M. Alzarani, Riyadh Valley Company CEO, said: “High level plans are already in place, but the major challenge in the Kingdom lies in the absence of a detailed timeline for a clear and gradual shift to renewable energy in the country and the slow adoption and advancement in renewable energy initiatives.”
He said his company “intended to invest in this sector both in early and late stage opportunities that will add value to the local needs.” Given its vast resources, the Kingdom is expected to meet its targets to meet local demand for renewable energy as replacement for conventional sources, says industrial sources.
“Since renewable energy is nonpollutant, it also ensures an environment healthful to live in not only for the present but also to future generation,” they said.
By 2032, Saudi Arabia hopes to generate as much as a third of its local energy demand by using renewable energy. The King Abdullah City for Atomic Renewable Energy (KACARE) has released a series of documents detailing the revised National Energy Plan. KACARE is the Saudi agency in charge of developing the nation’s renewable energy sector.