Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has invited companies to submit prequalification entries for the country’s first major standalone renewable energy projects.

Developers have been invited to submit prequalification entries by 4 August for the contracts to develop 50MW photovoltaic (PV) solar plants at Al-Jouf and Rafha in the northern part of the kingdom. The projects will be developed under the independent power project (IPP) model, with SEC set to be the offtaker for all of the power produced from the plants.

MEED reported in June that developers had been invited to submit expressions of interest (EOI) for the power projects.

SEC is aiming to issue tender documents to prequalified groups with 20 October, with a bid submission date likely in January 2017. The client is aiming to sign the power purchase agreement (PPA) and reach financial close by the end of May 2017.

The UK’s HSBC has been appointed as financial consultant, with the UK’s DLA Piper as legal consultant and the Netherland’s DNV as technical consultant.

MEED reported in February that SEC had received bids from consultants for the solar schemes at Al-Jouf and Rafha, and also for a 10-50MW wind project at Umiju.

The invitation for EOIs for the solar schemes follows the launch of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 in April, which set out an initial target for 9.5GW of renewable energy, believed to be by 2022. The new economic plan also revealed that Riyadh was in the process of forming a new King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative.

The initiation of the procurement phase for the first renewables projects will be welcomed throughout the international renewable energy market, with the kingdom having failed to deliver on the ambitious 54GW renewables programme it launched in 2013.

Following the release of a white paper outlining the initial phases of schemes in February 2013, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-Care) was unable to make any further progress with its programme.

In 2015, SEC made progress with its first renewables projects when it awarded contracts for the Duba 1 and Waad al-Shamal integrated solar combined-cycle (ISCC) projects, which will each have solar components of about 50MW.