Less than two months after announcing its ambitious plan to install 58.7 GW of renewable power generation capacity by 2030, Saudi Arabia has started the prequalification process to identify developers for its first seven photovoltaic (PV) solar projects, which have a combined electricity generation capacity of 1.15 GW.
Middle East renewables: Saudi Arabia
Riyadh says it will follow up in the second half of 2019 with the launch of an additional five PV projects with a capacity of 1.1 GW as well as an 850 MW wind project.
It is a giant leap for the country and a huge challenge.
To date, Saudi Arabia has awarded only two contracts for clean energy projects, with a combined capacity of 700MW. It must show that it can move faster than it ever has before if it is to reach its target of procuring 27.3 GW of renewable energy by 2024.
UAE: Abu Dhabi and Dubai
In early March, Abu Dhabi in the UAE received expressions of interest for a planned 2 GW PV solar project at Al-Dhafrah, which will be the largest single-site PV project in the world. Dubai, meanwhile, has started prequalification for the 900MW fifth phase of its Mohammed bin Rashid solar park.
Kuwait is also moving ahead with one of the largest solar projects in the region, with Kuwait National Petroleum Company expecting to receive proposals for a 1 GW PV scheme before the end of March.
The global installation of renewable energy projects was more than double the installation of conventional thermal power plants in 2017. In the Middle East, the falling costs of renewables, which have recently dropped below that of thermal power, and the drive for diversification mean the region is following suit.
While some sectors are facing project delays due to global economic conditions, the capital costs of renewables programmes are being financed under long-term power-purchase agreements. The combination of private sector involvement and political will for carbon-free energy will set the Middle East up to be a global power in renewable energy development.
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