Saudi Arabia’s government has confirmed that it will develop and build a $640 million solar power plant in the holy city of Mecca. It continues the country’s recent talks of bolstering its clean energy sector and with the holy pilgrimage of Hajj beginning, the government believes this is the best time to announce the massive project.
More importantly, however, the announcement of the solar power plant, one of the largest in the Middle East North Africa region, comes as numerous reports, including one from Citibank, have said the country could become a net importer of oil by 2030, making it difficult to meet the energy needs of the population.
Instead of sitting on their hands and waiting, Riyadh is moving forward on clean energy, and the Mecca power plan will have a capacity of 100 megawatts, Saudi economy newspaper Eqtisadiah reported. The office of Mecca’s Mayor Osama bin Fadl al-Bar told Green Prophet that the solar station “will save the city at least $550 million off its electricity bill every year.
“This is a great project and we are very proud that Mecca is going to be pushing a cleaner energy bill that promotes environmental awareness,” the mayor’s office added.
The mayor himself told Al-Eqtisadiah that “the project will be established on an area of about 2m sqm. About 20 international consortiums consisting of about 100 companies will compete for the execution of the project.”
In line with Saudi’s push toward clean energy, the city will be accepting bids for the tender in the first week of next year. Overall, the Saudi government hopes to create some 10 percent of its annual energy needs by 2017 through solar and wind power projects.
According to al-Eqtisadiah, the move into cleaner energy sources could save the Kingdom some 8 million barrels of oil daily.