Riyadh to emerge as key solar hub

19 July 2012

Kingdom’s solar plans could soon make it one of the world’s most active renewable energy markets

Saudi Arabia’s push into renewable energy has the potential to make the kingdom one of the most active markets for renewable energy projects in the world. Its plans to create a nuclear power sector of about 20GW split across at least a dozen reactors promise to be one of the biggest opportunities in the nuclear industry.

Its efforts in the solar sector could move quicker and could do more to create a domestic solar industry. Plans are already under way to manufactured polysilicon, used in solar panels, in the kingdom. Tie-ups with international firms to take this polysilicon and transform it into solar panels are also taking place. That would create an end-to-end solar industry in the kingdom.

The government is spearheading the drive through the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care), but Saudi Aramco could also emerge as a major driver of the domestic solar sector. It is working on developing solar power production and is now looking for an adviser to help it shape its strategy. An acquisition of a firm with solar expertise is understood to be one option being considered.

With a strong balance sheet and expertise in project delivery, Aramco is in a good position to move quickly on its solar ambitions than organisations created from scratch. The successful delivery of an Aramco-sponsored solar project could even help reassure foreign investors about KA-Care’s plans, which are likely to be larger in scope.

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