Saudis Seek 30 Solar, Wind Projects in $50 Billion Pledge

Saudi Arabia will develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of the kingdom’s $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption.

The world’s biggest exporter of crude oil will produce 10 percent of its power from renewables by 2023, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said Monday at a conference in Riyadh. It also plans to generate electricity from nuclear plants.

Saudi Arabia will offer a tender in the fourth quarter for 400 MW of wind power at a project in the northern area of Domat al-Jandal, he said.

The projects are part of a plan to transform the Saudi economy by weaning it off oil and creating new industries. Saudi Arabia plans to develop almost 10 GW of renewables by 2023, requiring investment of up to $50 billion, Al-Falih said in January. The country generated 30 MW to 50 MW of power from renewables last November, Ziyad Al-Shiha, chief executive officer of Saudi Electricity Co., said at the time.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., which generates 6 GW of electricity per year, is interested in participating in the second round of bidding for renewable projects, Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, senior vice president, said at the conference. Generating capacity will increase to 10 GW next year, he said.

The government plans to privatize the power industry, Al-Falih said. Saudi Electricity will be restructured, with its generation, transmission and distribution businesses all operating independently, he said.

“There are no dates established yet, but the process has been moving, and we are working on that,” Saudi Electricity’s Al-Shiha said on the sidelines of the conference.

Al-Falih said four generating companies under Saudi Electricity will be privatized. The kingdom will create a new company to trade power locally and wants to sell electricity to other countries, he said.

©2017 Bloomberg News

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