Saudi Aramco may be taking over the Kingdom’s renewable energy industry in order to hasten the uptake of solar, wind and other alternative sources of energy. The move comes after the government-backed group forecasted a significant slump in export revenue as local oil consumption soars.
In a recent report, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil warned that Saudi Arabia’s local demand is so high, exports could fall to an “unacceptably low level,” Bloomberg reports.
Largely unmotivated to consume energy wisely after years of subsidies, local Saudis could burn enough of their own oil to trigger a significant slowing of the Kingdom’s good years of fabulous riches and fast cars as export revenue shrinks.
By decree from the King in 2010, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KaCare) was established in part to spur an alternative energy movement – not because of any overwhelming urge to reduce carbon emissions or preserve nature, but because it became clear that one day oil will cease to gush out of Saudi’s fields.
More like it will slow to a trickle when combined with local population growth and surging demand. Maybe taking a note out of the United Arab Emirates’ page, Saudi announced in 2012 that it would invest $109 billion in solar by 2032. But as Bloomberg notes, progress is slow.
Too slow, apparently.
“The government solar plan is moving very slow, and we are hearing about it for some time, but it’s not maturing as fast as it should,” Gasem al-Shaikh, head of energy unit at Saudi Binladin Group, told Bloomberg in an interview. “The country can’t wait. We are burning more liquids every year, and that’s why Saudi Aramco now is taking the lead.”
The theory goes that after years of dealing with western countries, Saudi Aramco is well-poised to flush out the logistics of incorporating more renewables into their energy mix.
But the company also expressed a desire to implement these changes with caution – they specifically noted that both Germany and Spain suffered for exercising less restraint and therefore ending up with “an uncontrolled boom in solar panel installations.”