The launch of the tender for the 3,780MW integrated solar combined cycle (ISCC) Taiba South power plant shows that Riyadh is deciding to continue with implementing solar energy as part of its power generation programme.

While the launch of such a major power project will please contractors, the regional and international renewable energy firms will be pleased that solar will play a part in the kingdom’s power market moving forward.

MEED recently reported that the kingdom’s state utility, Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), had considered dropping solar from its first two planned ISCC schemes, Duba and Waad al-Shamal due to higher costs. However, with the client now in negotiations for a contract award on the Duba scheme and the launch of the Taiba South scheme as an ISCC should placate fears that that Riyadh is deserting its plans for renewable energy.

While the solar capacity involved for the current  ISCC projects, ranging from 50MW to 180MW, is much lower than the projects that had been planned under the seemingly abandoned KA-Care programme, which aimed to deliver up to 54GW of alternative energy by 2032, the fact that the kingdom is moving ahead with solar projects is a positive step.

At the recent Global Solar Leaders Summit in Dubai, some of the world’s most prominent solar companies made it clear that while countries like Dubai were offering attractive solar projects on a larger scale, the regions solar energy boom will not kick off properly until Saudi Arabia begins to embrace the technology. While fears remain that a rapidly falling oil price will deter progress with the region’s previously ambitious renewable energy targets, Riyadh’s decision to stick with solar projects has provided some assurances.