Inspite of its huge oil reserves, Saudi Arabia says it has no choice but to invest in solar energy.

This much was recently disclosed by a senior official of Saudi Electricity Company, the national electricity provider.

Hamed Al-Saggaf, an executive director with the Saudi Electricity Company, told industry players at the fourth Solar Arabia Summit on sun power that “solar energy is a must, not a choice. If we continue to consume fuel at the same rate then there will be a great lost opportunity. At least we have to start now.”

The Kingdom has a peak electricity load of 57 gigawatts, which is expected to increase. A 2011 report by Chatham House, a United Kingdom institution, said Saudi Arabia consumes more than one-quarter of its total oil production.

Saggaf outlined a plan to invest in hundreds of megawatts of solar energy over the next five years by focusing on isolated areas, in the country’s north and northeast, which currently rely on diesel power generation.

He said the cost of transporting the diesel is much higher than the subsidized cost of the diesel itself. The gateway for solar is the isolated areas.

Saggaf maintained that Saudi Arabia plans to invest $109 billion to produce 41 gigawatts of solar energy by 2032 to cover 30 percent of its projected needs.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest oil producer, depends entirely on oil and gas for its electricity production.

Folashade Olubayo
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