Saudi Arabia’s Idea International for Investment and Development plans to build a new polysilicon and solar wafer production plant at Yanbu on the country’s Red Sea coast, according to sources familiar with the project.

Upon completion, the plant will have a capacity of 5,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of polysilicon, of which 1,500 t/y will be converted into 55 million solar wafers capable of generating 180MW of electricity.  

“The project has been allocated land through the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu  and got a fuel allocation from Saudi Aramco,” the source says. “The [construction] tender process has begun and we are confident that deals can be reached by June or July [2010].”

The firm plans invite technology providers to bid directly on the engineering, procurement and construction contracts to build the plant.

“Hopefully, the facility will be completed by the third quarter of 2012, that is our timeframe,” the source says. “Funding should be in place soon and the company has applied for a loan from the Saudi Industrial Development Fund.”

The source declined to reveal the budget for the plant but independent estimates indicate that it will be several hundred million dollars at least.

Idea is based in Khobar and is made up of a consortium of businessmen from the GCC region. Marwan al-Ghurair from the UAE’s Abdulla al-Ghurair Group is a board member of the company.