Saudi Arabia has noticed it has twenty centuries of solar energy reserves and has made plans to tap them.
The Kingdom announced a $109 billion plan to create a solar industry that generates a third of the nation’s electricity by 2032, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Maher al- Odan, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) announced a plan to have 41 GW of solar capacity within two decades.
This is a very serious move by a country well able to afford this kind of investment, that till recently has lagged the rest of the MENA region in renewables trailing Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.
Traditional photovoltaic (PV) solar is to supply 16 GW, but the bulk of the solar (25 GW) is to come from concentrated solar power (CSP) that focuses the sun with mirrors to create the intense heat that drives turbines in a solar thermal power plant.
Citing government officials, Deutsche Bank said the capacity would be added in competitive bidding starting with 1,100 megawatts of PV and 900 megawatts of concentrating solar power in the first quarter of 2013.
A second round of bidding is due in the second half of 2014. Solar Reserve, which is constructing the largest 24 hour solar CSP project worldwide in Nevada has already been in talks with the Saudis. The CSP company uses similar technology to the Gemasolar project built in Spain by Abu Dhabi’s visionary state-funded clean energy company Masdar. Because both use molten salt as both the transfer liquid and the storage medium, they can supply electricity long after dark.