The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

SunEdison Mulls Massive PV Factory in Saudi Arabia

The Middle East holds a lot of growth promise for solar energy, particularly large-scale generation. Can solar PV pencil out in this high-DNI region -- especially if you build out most of the entire supply chain there?

Saudi Arabia has a looming problem: it's not only dependent on oil for exports and revenues (though no longer the biggest producer, thanks to U.S. fracking) it's also a heavy consumer of oil as well, and with its current energy demand it could become a net importer within a decade or two. Recognizing this path, the country has laid out some very aggressive goals to adopt renewable energy: 54 GW by 2032, equating to roughly a third of its energy demand. That includes 16 GW of solar PV, up from barely a few megawatts of solar PV installed today -- with more near-term goals of installing nearly 1.5 GW of solar PV by 2017, and 6 GW by 2020. The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA CARE) just released a "renewable resource atlas" tracking where some of those renewable energy sites should go, deploying dozens of monitoring stations to measure solar resources.

To secure a foothold in this market, SunEdison says it's exploring whether to build a massive 3-GW vertically-integrated solar PV manufacturing complex in Saudi Arabia, through a new feasibility study with the Saudi government's Public Investment Fund and Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil Investments), following what the company says was "a successful preliminary study" completed in the past year. The $6.4 billion project would include everything from polysilicon ingot creation to wafering, solar cell production, and module manufacturing, targeting output to start in 2017. "We want to make sure the business dynamics make sense," including assumptions about costs and profit margins, explained a company spokesperson. On that timeline, such a feasibility study would probably have to be signed off relatively quickly -- already the proposal has commitments from the Saudi Electrical Company and Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals to support the site with power requirements (silicon production is very energy-intensive) and natural gas.

SunEdison's official statement pegs this deal as consistent with its preferred "equity light approach," emphasizing its proprietary technical contributions -- technology and equipment for polysilicon production, up through solar cells and the company's Silvantis modules -- but that doesn't mean there won't be any SunEdison capital committed to the final project, the spokesperson added. Most of the polysilicon and ingot output from this Saudi plant would go for the on-site produced modules, and whatever's left will be considered for sale into the market for sale.

The proposal would help SunEdison tap into other MENA countries showing high-growth promise -- UAE, Dubai, and Jordan also are chasing large-scale PV dreams. "We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region," both for manufacturing and downstream solar PV development, stated SunEdison CEO Ahmad Chatila.

One of the hurdles will be balancing project bids vs. technology costs, which might include significant local content provisions. Plunking down a 3-GW plant in Saudi Arabia would go a long way towards solving all of those, especially for a company like SunEdison who plays both on the manufacturing and projects side of the equation. "While PV module production costs are expected to drop by half during the next decade, for Saudi Arabia to benefit from global price reductions its supply chain for modules must be transparent and not overruled by mandates for local content," said IHS' Henning Wicht in a report last October.

Lead image: Saudi Arabia flag waving on the wind, via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Solar power growth impacting UK electricity sector

Diarmaid Williams

Q2 of 2015 saw a large increase in the generation of electricity from solar PV in the UK, with the growth having a significant impact on electricity market prices and other supply factors.

PACE Finance Opening Doors for C&I Solar In California

Susan Kraemer, Correspondent With its excellent renewable policy, California leads the nation in solar. Over the years both the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the California Solar Initiative drove utility scale and residential solar deployment. But w...

US Clean Power Plan Could Include Carbon Trading

Mark Drajem, Bloomberg Some businesses that back President Barack Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gases are making a late lobbying push to add an element similar to a cap-and-trade program. With the administration set this week or next to unveil ...

Why the Future of the Yieldco Is at Risk

Haresh Patel In the past two years, the proliferation of YieldCos, and their ability to open new sources of capital for renewable energy projects, has captured the attention of the energy industry. While a YieldCo’s potential to catalyz...
Jim is Contributing Editor for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Grid-connected and Off-grid Photovoltaics

This training covers all aspects of planning, installation, maintenance,...

2015 Intersolar-South America

Canadian Solar will be exhibiting @ Intersolar-South America. Stop by an...

2015 Green Energy Expo

Stop by and visit Canadian Solar at the Green Energy Expo in Mexico City!

COMPANY BLOGS

LSX rises with sustainable wine making in Mexico

his custom LSX solar canopy shades the upper deck organic gard...

Do Your Goals Match Your Values?

Before you set goals for your company or your personal work performance ...

A Networking Story

When you’re at a networking event and you meet someone who works i...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS