The Kingdom’s aggressive plan to reduce reliance on oil and transfer over to alternative energy sources is in full force. Both the government and businesses are beginning to explore and implement renewable energy sources, to both align with Saudi Vision 2030 and to cut costs and open up new investment opportunities for business. Moving from oil to alternative energy will take some time, however, and requires a comprehensive approach. The Kingdom is investing in a number of different alternative energy projects that businesses can adopt as well, including:
Of all the options for renewable energy in the Kingdom, solar power reigns supreme — and is the most viable choice for Saudi businesses. With abundant sunshine and vast geography, solar energy is at the forefront of Vision 2030 — and businesses looking to save money.
As a part of Vision 2030, the Kingdom has made a massive investment in conjunction with SoftBank to develop the world’s largest solar energy project at a cost of $200 billion (note: at the time of this writing, the deal is being restructured). The project, which will make the Kingdom the world leader in renewable energy, has already kick-started a move of businesses to solar.
With solar energy, Saudi businesses can cut operating costs immediately — and easily. On-grid solar, which allows you to connect your alternative energy solution to the existing power grid — requires a minimal investment in solar panels, and a return that pays for the full system cost in a matter of 6-7 years. Solar is the most simple and effective way for Saudi businesses to move to green energy immediately.
Sun is plentiful in the Kingdom, making solar energy a no-brainer — but so is wind. The Saudi government is making major investments in wind power and has received bids from four consortiums competing to build a $500 million wind farm project. The Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) at the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources (MEIM) recently opened bidding for a 400 MW wind project at Dumat Al Jandal as well, which is expected to generate power for more than 70,000 Saudi households.
One of the reasons for these investments in wind power is that research from Notre Dame University and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology shows that the Kingdom has significant potential for renewable energy in wind power technology. While there are various foreign entities investing in renewable energy in the Kingdom, the aim is to help Saudi citizens and businesses. “A fundamental cornerstone of these projects will be local content. Local content is key — it is being stipulated in tenders,” said Turki Mohammed Al-Shehri, head of Saudi Arabia’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office.
Nuclear energy has been around for a long time and continues to be one of the most effective forms of alternative energy on the planet — though many countries are hesitant to implement it due to safety concerns. Most of these concerns are outdated. Nuclear waste storage technology has come a long way, and the Kingdom is making good use of nuclear to help realize its alternative energy goals. Saudi Arabia plans to construct two new, large nuclear power reactors over the next 20-25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, helping the country achieve the Vision 2030 plan.
Though geothermal energy is rarely the first alternative energy source talked about, the Kingdom has rich geothermal energy resources at its disposal. Studies beginning in the 1980s have identified various areas where this alternative energy source could take root. In fact, Saudi Arabia is among the most geothermally active countries in the Middle East. Geothermal energy can be utilized in various forms including direct use, electricity generation, space heating, heat pumps and greenhouse heating. Though no major geothermal power plants have yet been installed in Saudi Arabia, some smaller, direct use operations are already in use.
While all of the renewable energy solutions have their merits, at this point in time, solar is the only viable option for Saudi businesses. Vision 2030 is a bold strategy that will require utilizing the most practical alternative energy sources available in the Kingdom. The government is making enormous investments to ensure this happens – and businesses are following suit.
Sun Capture is a solar energy services company in Saudi Arabia helping businesses in the GCC bridge the gap between the current rising energy demands and costs, and the coming national move towards affordable renewable energy. To learn more about how solar can help your energy needs and bring your business in line with Saudi Vision 2030, contact us today.