Solar power projects significant landmarks in journey of Saudi Arabia’s energy sector, says Prince Abdulaziz

April 08, 2021

Saudi Gazette report

SAKAKA — Under the patronage of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Thursday inaugurated the Sakaka solar power plant, the first renewables project in the Kingdom, with an output capacity of 300 MW.

During the ceremony, which was attended by Governor the Al-Jouf region Prince Faisal Bin Nawaf, power purchase agreements (PPA’s) for seven other renewable energy projects in a number of regions were also signed with five investment consortiums composed of twelve Saudi and international companies.

In a statement on this occasion, Prince Abdulaziz noted the support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, and his wise guidance in all areas, which is always beneficial to the nation and its people. He also expressed appreciation of the support of the Crown Prince saying, “I have to note the great leadership role that Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is undertaking in enabling the energy sector.”

“These projects are a practical on-the-ground application of Saudi Vision 2030, that contributes to the optimization of the energy mix and the transformation of the Kingdom from the use of liquid fuel to gas and renewables, which makes these projects significant landmarks in the journey of the energy sector,” the energy minister noted.

He pointed out that the new projects are located in Al Madinah, Sudair, Qurayyat, Shuaibah, Jeddah, Rabigh, and Rafha. The total capacity of these projects, in addition to the two projects of Sakaka and Doumat Al-Jandal, is 3,670 MW. They will also power more than 600,000 households and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7 million tons.

Some of these projects, Prince Abdulaziz added, have set new world records for the lowest cost of solar-produced electricity. The Shuaibah project’s cost of electricity is 1.04 US cents per kWh.

The private sector, the energy minister noted, contributes to and has played an essential role in renewable energy projects. The Sakaka project has been developed by Acwa Power, which is a company co-owned by PIF and is the national leader in this area that has projects across many countries in the world. Acwa Power has also made some achievements with regards to job nationalization; 97 percent of Sakaka IPP PV’s operation team are Saudis, and 90 percent of whom are from Al-Jouf.

The significance of the renewable energy projects celebrated today, the energy minister stated, lies in the fact that they represent practical steps towards achieving a number of strategic goals of Saudi Vision 2030 for the energy ecosystem in general and the electricity sector in particular. The utilization of renewable energy sources, Prince Abdulaziz continued, constitutes an important part of the efforts to reduce the use of liquid fuel in electricity production and to optimize the national energy mix. The aim is to have the share of each gas and renewables in that mix at around 50 percent by 2030, by removing around a million BOEs of liquid gas per day used as fuel in electricity production, water salination, and other sectors.

All of this, the energy minister said, will enable the Kingdom to increase the energy efficiency in electricity production and assert and enhance the level of our environmental commitment through reducing GHG emissions.

Prince Abdulaziz explained that these projects and many others that are under construction across the Kingdom, such as green and blue hydrogen and ammonia projects, and the Kingdom’s adoption of the circular carbon economy, an initiative by the Kingdom that has been endorsed by the G20 as an effective approach to achieve the climate change goal and find more sustainable, and less costly energy systems, together form supportive and supplementary elements for the ambitious goals that the “Green Saudi” and “Green Middle East” initiatives, which were announced by the Crown Prince a few days ago, seek to achieve.

This shows to the world, the energy minister said, the Kingdom’s determination to continue to fulfill its obligations under the conventions of environmental protection and climate change.

Completing these projects and connecting them to the national grid, Prince Abdulaziz stated, contributes to enhancing the Kingdom’s capacity to produce enough electricity to meet the national needs, promote the reliability of its electricity grid, and supports its ambitious plans to become one of the key countries in producing and exporting renewables-generated electricity.

It also promotes electricity trade exchange through the Kingdom’s projects of electricity interconnection with neighboring countries, which have already begun with the Gulf countries and work is underway to connect with Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq, and supports its efforts to nationalize the manufacturing and development of the components of solar and wind energy production and its technologies and enable those working the sector, he added.

During his trip to Al-Jouf, the energy minister also visited the Doumat Al Jandal wind energy project, which will have an output capacity of around 400 MW, and checked on its progress.

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