The US’ SunEdison is to conduct a feasibility study on building a $6.4bn solar panel manufacturing plant in the Wa’ad al-Shammal industrial area, in the northern area of Saudi Arabia.

The proposed plant would have a manufacturing capacity of 3,000MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) electrical power.

The feasibility study is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil). The study follows SunEdison discussions with Saudi Arabia’s National Industrial Clusters Development Programme (NICDP).

The proposed solar facility has strong government support, with the Petroleum & Minerals Ministry and the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) pledging to provide natural gas and other energy needs. If it decides to move ahead with the project, SunEdison is targeting construction work on the plant to begin in 2017.

Solar power forms a central part of Saudi Arabia’s energy diversification targets, with the kingdom aiming for renewable energy to meet about one-third of its electricity demand by 2032. The manufactured solar panels would be for domestic use and export.