Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Dubai — Saudi Arabia is kicking off its $50bn renewable-energy push as the world’s top crude exporter turns to solar and wind power to temper domestic oil use in meeting growing energy demand.

Bidders seeking to qualify to build 700MW of wind and solar power plants should submit documents by March 20, and those selected will be announced by April 10, Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said Monday. Qualified bidders will be able to present their offers for the projects starting on April 17 through July.

"This marks the starting point of a long and sustained programme of renewable energy deployment in Saudi Arabia that will not only diversify our power mix but also catalyse economic development," Khalid Al-Falih, the energy minister, said in the statement. The ministry’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office intends to set up "the most attractive, competitive and well-executed government renewable energy investment programmes in the world", he said.

Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco are developing renewable energy to either curb their fuel imports or conserve more valuable oil that could otherwise be exported. Saudi Arabia plans to develop almost 10GW of renewable energy by 2023, requiring investment of $30bn to $50bn, Al-Falih said last month in Abu Dhabi.

Building more solar, wind and nuclear power plants is part of a broader plan that the kingdom announced in April to diversify away from crude sales as the main source of government income.

The two projects in this round are a 300MW solar facility at Sakaka in the country’s northern Al Jouf province and a 400MW wind plant at Midyan in northwestern Tabuk province, according to the statement.

©2017 Bloomberg LP

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