• 50MW solar plant will be located in Aflaj in central Saudi Arabia
  • It is estimated that the plant will save up to 4 million barrels of diesel a year
  • Project provides a welcome boost for kingdom’s renewable energy sector, which has been left disapointed with lack of progress with other planned schemes

Agreements for a 50MW solar project in the Aflaj province of Saudi Arabia have been signed between state utility Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).

The memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was also signed with the local Taqnia Energy, sets out an agreement to develop the Layla solar plant in Aflaj. Taqnia will build the solar facility.

The partners estimate that the 50MW facility will save about 4 million barrels of diesel over the duration of the plant’s operation, which is equivalent to about SR900m ($240m).

The signing of the MOU finally brings some positive news for the kingdom’s renewable energy market, which has failed to deliver on its ambitious plans.

In early 2015, MEED reported that the kingdom’s planned 54GW renewable energy programme, which was being spearheaded by the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care), had been shelved.

The kingdom’s future renewable energy projects will be developed on a much smaller scale, with SEC and state oil major Saudi Aramco both set to move ahead with solar schemes.

MEED recently reported that SEC had received bids for two integrated solar and combined-cycle (ISCC) plants. The 1,050MW ISCC plant in Waad al-Shamal will have a 50MW solar component, and the 550MW Duba 1 plant is scheduled to have a 60MW solar element.