By Anthony DiPaola, Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is poised to start generating wind power within three years as part of an effort to harness renewable energy to cut local demand for fossil fuels.
The renewable energy units of Electricite de France SA and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co. completed arrangements with Saudi and international banks to finance the project, according to a statement from Masdar, as the Abu Dhabi business is known. Masdar didn’t identify the lenders.
EDF Renewables and Masdar won a contract in January to build the 400-megawatt Dumat Al Jandal facility, which is to begin producing electricity in the first quarter of 2022. The project will be the biggest wind-power plant in the Middle East when it begins producing, Masdar said.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to develop new industries to wean its economy off oil. Its sovereign wealth fund plans to invest in renewable energy facilities and factories to make components for solar and wind farms. The country wants to use more natural gas and renewable energy to free up roughly 600,000 barrels of crude that it currently burns each day to generate power.
The wind plant is to be built at Dumat Al Jandal city in northwestern Saudi Arabia, a region where state-owned Saudi Aramco installed a single wind turbine in January 2017.
The energy ministry has pre-qualified 60 companies to bid for 12 renewables projects it plans to tender this year, starting this month, with a goal of adding 3,000 megawatts of capacity.