Saudi Arabia has set a staggering national goal to have 20 GW (20,000MW) of solar generation installed over the next twenty years, according to Saudi officials speaking to CSP Today. Although there have been increasing noises from the reticent Kingdom in recent years about adding more renewable power, this is the first mention of hard numbers. These are huge. This would mean installing an average of 1 GW (1,000MW) of solar for each of the next twenty years.
This would make the Kingdom a bigger market than that of the current world leader, Germany.
With an averaged value of solar insolation in Medina in June that equals 7.83 kWh per sq meter per day Saudi Arabian is much more suited to solar than Germany. The deserts of Saudi Arabia are comparable with those in Southern California that are now sprouting utility-scale solar plants, thanks to funding subsidies in the Obama administration Recovery Act in the US that have escaped cuts with the new congress.
‘Solar is an exciting time in MENA, we are where the oil industry used to be in the 1940’s and 50’s’ said Vahid Fouthi, Director of North Africa & Middle East at BP Solar. He should know. Although the oil industry is raking in huge profits now, the future of oil production in Saudi Arabia is extremely uncertain.
Many of the oil-producing countries are starting to test out solar, even in some cases, marrying solar with oil production itself, swapping solar for the gas used to extract the last drops of dying oil fields. (See Successful Ormat Waste Heat Recovery Test Could Green Dying Oil Fields) Saudi Arabia must be becoming confident of the results, that it is making such a strong statement.
The announcement is sure to drive new visitors to MENASOL 2011, which is to be held on May 4th and 5th in Casablanca. A two-day conference during the event has been added “to provide senior level executives with critical market intelligence and valuable contacts that will assist businesses to successfully finance develop and build solar projects in MENA to exploit regional and European opportunities.”
Image of Arabian sun from Shutterstock