France’s Areva is set to sign a partnership agreement with Saudi Binladin Group for nuclear and solar energy.

“We think that on solar thermal in Saudi Arabia there’s an important market and we are partnering with Saudi Binladin Group to develop this,” Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive, Areva said in a report by Reuters.

Saudi Arabia wants to cut domestic oil consumption within the next several decades as it diversifies its energy mix, including nuclear, Hashim Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewables Energy.

“You want to have an energy mix to save oil, and this oil we can leverage prices so we can sell it abroad to build these facilities,” Yamani said.

“Nuclear would be adequate for the base load, we’ll use renewables to add more capacity, there are some variations – gas and oil will have to continue to help,” he said.

Saudi Arabia plans to build a landmark scientific centre for nuclear and renewable power, King Abdullah City of Atomic and Renewable Energy.

The facility will investigate the application of nuclear power together with renewable energy to be used in the kingdom to meet rising electricity demand. Several large projects will be included in the scheme.