The Saudi Arabia government is preparing to build commercial-scale solar panel factories including production of raw materials, currently imported from Taiwan. One of the projects is recently signed property contract between the Al-Afandi Group with Saudi Royal Commission to build solar park of annual capacity 120 MW in phase one and with 1 GW the final target. Next year, the two state-owned companies that control the energy sector – the oil company Saudi Aramco and main power producer Saudi Electricity Company plan to jointly set about 10 big solar projects within the country.
These initiatives are quite revolutionary in Saudi Arabia considering waste supply of natural reserves. With gasoline sale price of 50 cents/gallon (Aramco sells oil to the Saudi Electricity Company for about $4 a barrel), the electricity is significantly produced by burning oil and the price of electricity is around 1 cent/kWh. It resulted with the fact that in the country so much exposed to the sun very few buildings have benefits from insulation. However, things are changing in a most positive way. The oil companies invest in solar energy not considering it as competitive source of energy but way of keeping their power on the market. Saudi Arabia also has large open desert areas seemingly tailor-made for solar-panel arrays. Due to the desert sand storms that cause technical difficulties in use of solar panels, they began developing a system to keep solar panels clean in the desert. The research in solar business started in 1979 when the United States and Saudi Arabia jointly launched a solar-research station near Riyadh. Three years ago, Saudi Arabia announced rather ambitious goal of building 41 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2032 (the target date moved to 2040) which would meet about 20% of country’s projected electricity needs with the targeted price of 5 cents/kWh of produced solar energy. Moreover, these aspirations are not limited only to production for huge potential domestic market but also for export of panels, mostly to United States, expected to be one of the world’s most developing solar market in upcoming years. Although ambitious in its goals in regard to current state, if Saudi Arabia succeeds in its projects it could set a good model for other countries trying to shift away from oil to sun.
One of the big projects in country’s capital is Riyadh Metro Project, currently under construction and planned to be finished until 2018. One of the world’s largest metro projects is being built by world’s leading construction companies. The project worth around 22 billion dollars will provide a safe, efficient and fast means of public transport. The automatic driver-less network will be over 170 km long, out of which around 40% underground and will have 87 stations on six lines. G-Solar, already present on the market of Saudi Arabia, is one of the bidders in tender for mono-crystalline PV modules that will be set on the rooftops of metro infrastructure. In regard to country’s ambitious goals in the area of energy efficient projects, the company tends to participate in number of announced projects.