Saudi Arabia has recently unveiled a new plan to add almost 40 Gigawatts of solar power over the next 20 years investing more than $100 billion. This environment friendly solar power has huge advantages & its costs are declining at a rapid pace. The country wants to generate almost 30% of its power from solar energy in the future and reduce its reliance on oil to generate electricity for its fast growing population. The country has also finalized a near term plan to add a couple of gigawatts in the next year or so using a mix of solar thermal and solar panel technology. Note countries keep coming up with grandiose plans to generate huge amounts of renewable energy without it amounting to much in reality. UAE with its Masdar City and big plans turned out to be a damp squib with Masdar its renewable energy company turning out to be a jack of all trades and master of none.
Recently many Middle East countries had also unveiled plans for nuclear energy generation but many have turned their backs after seeing the dangerous disadvantages of nuclear power in Japan. However Saudi Arabia most probably will implement this plan given the drastically reduced cost of solar energy these days. In the scale that Saudis are planning to build they could easily get the cost down to 10c/kwh for these plants given the ample sunshine. Already companies like First Solar are setting up offices in the Middle East to take advantage of the growing demand there.
Saudi Arabia does not love the environment or green cause too much given its shocking objection to island nation’s request for global warming data and its demand to be compensated for lost oil revenues as countries take initiatives to prevent global warming. However the government does love its petrodollars and wants to earn it by exploring oil rather than burning it to generate dirt cheap power for its citizens
Saudi Arabia is seeking investors for a $109 billion plan to create a solar industry that generates a third of the nation’s electricity by 2032, according to officials at the agency developing the plan. The world’s largest crude oil exporter aims to have 41,000 megawatts of solar capacity within two decades, said Maher al- Odan, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.
Citing government officials, Deutsche Bank said the capacity would be added in competitive bidding starting with 1,100 megawatts of PV and 900 megawatts of solar thermal in the first quarter of 2013. A second round of bidding is due in the second half of 2014.