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Riyadh serious on renewables

The publication of a white paper shows the kingdom is committed to delivering its ambitious renewable energy programme

The release on 20 February of a white paper on Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy plans shows that the kingdom is committed to delivering the region’s most ambitious alternative power programme.

King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care) was created to realise the kingdom’s renewable and nuclear energy ambitions. Until now, the body had provided little information on how it intends to achieve its ambitious renewable energy targets. The launch of the white paper sets out a framework for the capacity and procurement of the initial phases, and conveys that Riyadh is planning for the future.

The launch of the white paper sets out a framework for … procurement of the initial phases

With peak power demand expected to rise by more than 60 per cent in the next 20 years, Saudi Arabia is aware that it must swiftly move forward with power projects to avoid severe shortages. In addition to the environmental concerns of building new capacity by burning fossil fuels, there will be major cost implications if the kingdom continues to use gas and oil.

With Brent crude recording an average price of $112 a barrel in 2012, the world’s biggest oil producer is aware it cannot afford to keep burning millions of barrels a year to generate domestic power.   

Ka-Care’s white paper does not just provide the blueprint for sustainable energy projects, but also lays out proposed targets for greater local participation in the workforce. The push for Saudisation is further evidence that Riyadh is thinking about the country’s long-term future, and is aware that its hydrocarbons resources will not last forever.

Contractors have been keeping a close eye on the kingdom’s renewable plans since Riyadh created KA-Care in 2010. With the first steps towards delivering the programme now having been taken, Saudi Arabia is set to offer huge opportunities for firms working in the alternative power sector.

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