King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) unveiled a white paper detailing the tender processes for new solar PV and solar thermal power plants, wind farms and geothermal facilities.

The first three rounds of contracts are now expected to be awarded before 2015, with a view to creating more than 7GW of new capacity, the majority of which will come from solar power.

A smaller introductory round will be launched in the first half of this year solely focusing on concentrated solar power. It will be followed by two larger tendering rounds over the period to 2015 for a range of technologies.

The three tender rounds for solar alone could account for more than $10 billion (£6.5 billion) of investment, BusinessGreen online reported Friday.

The rounds form part of Saudi Arabia’s colossal program to procure 54GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2032, which would see the Kingdom become one of the largest green energy generators in the world. According to KA-CARE, the Kigdom will continue to source the majority of its power from hydrocarbons, with a further 17.6GW of nuclear energy, but it will also establish itself as a leading renewables hub.

Under the new plans, the vast majority of new green capacity will be solar – 16GW of which come from photovoltaic cells and 35GW from concentrated solar thermal. A further 9GW will come from wind power, 3GW will be provided by waste-to-energy, and 1GW will come from geothermal power.

Developers will be invited to bid for power purchase contracts and the government’s Sustainable Energy Procurement Company (SEPC) will buy the electricity generated.

KA-CARE maintained this mix will allow nuclear, geothermal and waste-to-energy to provide a base-load night-time supply of power, while solar with storage will contribute to the daytime demand alongside gas and oil.

Matthias Kittler, project manager for Apricum, told BusinessGreen the program would offer a massive boost to green industries.

Bidders will be invited from around the world. However, the tendering process will also aim to encourage the creation of local production and jobs. He said the first rounds will offer a bonus to bidders with local sourcing arrangements while rounds after 2015 will include a mandate for local content.

Kittler forecast significant interest from local energy companies seeking to expand into renewables, as well as international firms.

"We also expect a lot of top-notch solar players, such as Suntech Power, will be eager to provide their panels," he added. "

[But] we think that for international companies to be successful bidders, they need to find Saudi project partners."

According to Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices (CAI), Saudi Arabia has good wind energy potential, with some 4.9 hours of full-load wind per day on average, one of the highest in the MENA region.

The strikingly high solar radiation of around 2,550kWh/m2/year and the availability of large stretches of empty desert that can host solar arrays, in addition to the vast deposits of clear sand that can be used in the manufacture of silicon PV cells, makes Saudi Arabia an ideal location for both CSP and PV power generation.

Saudi Arabia has quickly made it onto the list of focus markets for investors and technology providers, with the government announcing its ambitious $109 billion plan to install 41GW of solar and 9 GW of wind capacity by 2032. Other strong signals to the market include the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care), the Government’s alternative energy arm, announcing its plans to launch a major renewable energy auction.