RIYADH — A pilot project to evaluate the use of solar electricity to sustainably power irrigation in the Kingdom was successfully completed in a farm in Al-Jouf province.
The project is jointly funded by First Solar, Inc. and Al Watania Agriculture Company, a press statement said on Tuesday.
The 684-kilowatt plant powers groundwater extraction and distribution operations at a 25,688-square meter site on the Al Watania Organic farm located in Al Jouf.
The farm, which covers an area of 319.21 square kilometers, is the Kingdom’s largest producer of organic products and currently uses conventional fuel to pump water from 150 bore wells.
The facility produces 1,476 MWh of electricity per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,100 tons per year based on national averages, which is equivalent to planting 28,000 trees per year. The solar power plant replaces a diesel generator, which would ordinarily consume 628,000 liters of diesel per year, if run continuously. “We are proud to partner with First Solar on this exciting new project, which will not only help reduce our carbon footprint, but will also allow us to explore the potential for solar to reliably support our energy needs,” said Eng. Ibrahim Aboabat, Al-Watania Agriculture CEO.
The advanced thin film modules deployed at the site are ideally suited to local environmental conditions, offering a combination of a superior temperature coefficient and spectral performance, allowing optimum performance in weather like that in Saudi Arabia. The installed PV generator will pump over 3,1 million cubic meters of water per year, unaided by conventional generators. “This project is an excellent example of the scalability and flexibility that solar PV offers. Easy-to-deploy and able to address very specific needs, innovative solar-powered solutions can address a wide range of energy challenges, as this pilot facility demonstrates,” said Dr. Raed Bkayrat, Vice President of Business for First Solar in the Middle East.