By: Jason Lemon
Saudi Arabia plans to become a “solar powerhouse” and invest tens of billions in renewable energy sources.
Currently, less than 1 percent of Saudi Arabia’s energy is renewable. The kingdom’s economy relies primarily on oil production.
Energy, Industry and Mineral Recourses Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that Riyadh will invest between $30 to $50 billion in renewable energy by 2032, according to media reports.
Falih made the comments this week during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, also saying he hopes to develop the kingdom’s significant solar potential, harness wind power and launch two nuclear power stations.
The kingdom is also looking to develop geothermal power – steam from within the earth – as its strategic plan to diversify its energy sector.
In December, the state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, announced the launch of the kingdom’s very first wind turbine. Wind power will be used to power the company’s plant in Turaif.
Renewable energy initiatives are an integral part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, the national transformation plan championed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. The ambitious plan aims to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on oil and diversify the economy.
John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Riyadh-based Gulf Research Center told Arab News that Riyadh “wants to balance economic needs against environmental goals as it has considerable solar power potential and is eager to reduce its use of fossil fuels.”
Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, making the kingdom the largest exporter of oil on the planet.
Building new energy sectors will work to curb CO2 emissions and also help create new jobs.
“Job creation for Saudis and a cleaner environment are important goals of Vision 2030 for better quality of life values,” Sfakianakis said.