If you read our blog on the Kingdom’s big bet on solar “giga-cities,” you know that solar energy in Saudi Arabia is on the rise. Saudi Vision 2030 has made clear to the world that the Kingdom intends to expand its energy leadership into the new millennia with a significant focus on solar power and other alternative energy sources.
There remains, however, some skepticism among Saudi businesses regarding the push towards solar energy in Saudi Arabia. For a country that boasts the world’s largest supply of oil, switching over to solar power seems unnecessary to many, and undoable to some. Fits and starts with some of the largest planned projects have helped drive additional skepticism as well. The issues around these mega-projects are completely normal for such an ambitious undertaking. While they may take some time to sort out, make no mistake that solar energy in Saudi Arabia is the future — and the future begins now.
For those who remain skeptical about the prospects of a solar future, look no further than a government-backed project that is already underway: Layla. While the project doesn’t have quite the scope of the planned giga-cities, it is a significant undertaking that will not only power an entire province but prove the viability of solar energy in Saudi Arabia.
The Layla solar plant is the first independent solar plant directly connected to the Saudi Arabian power grid. Built and managed by Taqnia Energy — the Saudi Technology and Investment Company established in 2011 by royal decree — the project covers a 720,000 square meter area and will eventually provide more than half of the electricity to the Al-Aflaj province. Phase 1 of the project has already been completed and is producing 10 megawatts of solar energy. The following phases will add another 40 MW by the time the plant is fully operational.
The Layla Solar Plant is proof positive that the future of solar energy in Saudi Arabia is upon us — and that solar energy is a viable and desirable form of energy for the Kingdom going forward. While it may not yet have the fanfare or larger planned projects, it does bolster the Kingdom’s targets of creating 9.5 GW of solar and wind capacity by 2030.
Layla also proves that solar energy can be created on a large scale. The technology of solar has evolved quickly over the last few decades, and the Kingdom is making a push for solar energy at just the right time. With this initial investment proving success, the path for more projects is laid out perfectly. Of course, Layla is still a work in progress with much more to come. In addition to 40 MW of additional energy added by the final phase of the project, Layla is also slated to include a PV module assembly line, with an estimated annual capacity of 500 MW, which will be used to supply the future development of Saudi solar projects.
The Kingdom’s ambitious targets for renewable energy, led by solar, are starting to get off the ground with the opening of Layla. With Taqnia now the first independent power producer in the Kingdom, the path towards a solar future is set, and the progress could begin to come quickly.
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.