REPDO’s Big Solar Announcement and What It Means

March 7, 2019

Solar power is the future of energy in Saudi Arabia — and that future has arrived. Massive plans for giga-cities like NEOM have been announced and are in the planning stages. Additional giga-cities that will feature everything from sports complexes and luxury resorts are in the queue as well. Of course, some skepticism remained that these projects would actually come to fruition, but that skepticism has all but been erased by Saudi Arabia’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) announcing the tender of seven large-scale IPP solar projects.

In what could prove to be a defining moment for solar energy in Saudi Arabia, REPDO has published expressions of interest for the development and construction of seven new solar PV independent power producer projects with a combined potential capacity of 1.515 GW.

This tender, which is part of the second round of the Saudi National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), is aimed at REPDO’s new national renewable energy targets in which the Saudi government intends to deploy 40 GW of solar as part of an overall 58.7 GW renewables implementation to meet the Vision 2030 goals. REPDO’s first round tender called for 700 MW of renewables — 300 of which were dedicated to solar energy in Saudi Arabia.

The seven projects are:

  1. Medina solar PV independent power project (IPP): Medina Province, approximately 26 kilometers from Medina city (50MW)
  2. Rafha solar PV IPP: Northern Borders province, approximately 16km from Rafha (45MW)
  3. Qurayyat solar PV IPP: Al-Jawf Province, approximately 15km from Qurayyat (200MW)
  4. Al-Faisaliah solar PV IPP: Mecca Province, approximately 80km south of Jeddah (600MW)
  5. Rabigh solar PV IPP: Mecca Province, approximately 145km north of Jeddah (300MW)
  6. Jeddah solar PV IPP: Mecca Province, approximately 50km southeast of Jeddah (300MW)
  7. Mahd al-Dahab solar PV IPP: Medina Province, approximately 150km southeast of Medina (20MW)

The Tipping Point

The gravity of this effort by REPDO cannot be understated. The latest tender, above all, shows that the Kingdom is serious in their efforts to make the change to renewable energy — and that the change has already begun. That’s why the tender attracted global attention and resulted in the lowest bid for solar ever submitted — a levelized cost of $0.0178 per kilowatt hour by French energy giant EDF. Ultimately, the winning bid went to Saudi company ACWA.

The message, though, is clear. This latest progress is a watershed moment for the future and present of solar energy in Saudi Arabia. For those working in the renewable energy industry in the Kingdom, this was the moment we’ve all been waiting for. NREP’s movement on these projects is opening up the floodgates for more and more projects. The concept has been proven, and a massive amount of development is now expected to take place in the near future.

Vision 2030 is no longer an idea — it’s a real strategy that is already generating real results.

The future of Saudi energy is solar, and now is a great time for Saudi businesses to invest in solar energy. With large and largely unpredictable spikes in the cost of oil coming soon as the government rolls back subsidies, more and more Saudi businesses are making the switch to solar energy. And with the cost of solar energy systems coming down rapidly as more of the world adopts solar power and market forces come into play, there’s never been a better time to implement cost-saving energy sources that will help boost the bottom line.

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.