This solar rooftop in Saudi Arabia, shown here during construction, is now complete and connected to the grid. (Image via Flickr)
The world’s largest oil producer is now generating electricity from the sun. Saudi Arabia’s National Solar Systems (NSS) and Conergy, a German-based solar consortium, last week announced the completion of a solar park on the rooftop of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
“For the first time, clean power is flowing into the national grid. This is a historical event for us in Saudi Arabia,” explained Abdulhadi Al-Mureeh, the managing director of NSS.
Although it sits on about 20% of the world’s proven oil reserves, Saudi Arabia seeks to make solar power a significant component of its energy supply within the next decade. This includes plans for a series of solar-powered desalination facilities, incorporating locally developed nanotechnology.
The solar rooftop at KAUST is a modest start, generating 2 MW of power. However, the oil-rich kingdom sees a sunny future: “Saudi Arabia aspires to export as much solar energy in the future as it exports oil now,” Saudi Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ali Al-Naimi, declared in a recent interview.
The photovoltaic array at KAUST combines over 9,300 high-efficiency solar modules, covering 11,577 square meters of roof space. It will produce 3,332 MW hours of clean energy annually, while saving up to 33,320 tons of carbon emissions. (This is equivalent to about 6,000 circumnavigations of the world by car, according to a Conergy spokesman.)
Read more on Saudi Arabia’s solar plans and KAUST:
Saudi Arabia to Replace Oil with Sun Power for Desalination Plants
Saudi Arabia and IBM to Develop Solar-powered Desalination Plant
AIA Names Saudi’s KAUST In 2010 Top Green Projects