JUN 18, 2018 (BE2C2 Report): General Electric, the giant American engineering conglomerate, is considering to join the $200-billion solar energy initiative announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his two-week visit to the US in March.
The Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund are partnering on an ambitious Saudi plan to make the Kingdom the center of the world’s solar energy industry with 200GW plant by 2030.
The country gets plenty of sun, has vast areas of empty desert, and has the financial power to pull it off.
Once built, that solar-power plant will be about 200 times the size of the biggest solar plant operating today. It would more than triple Saudi Arabia’s capacity to produce electricity, from about 77 GW today.
With current technology, solar panels capable of generating 200 GW would likely cover 5,000 sq km—an area larger than the the world’s largest cities.
GE is also is considering manufacturing its latest series of high-technology power generators in Dammam, in the Eastern Province, where its business is currently based. The move would also add up to 100 new technology jobs for Saudi citizens.
Scott Strazik, the president and chief executive officer of GE’s power services division, told Arab News that the company had the capacity to manufacture the state-of-the-art H series gas turbines in Saudi Arabia.
“We have the ability and the capacity to manufacture the H series in Saudi Arabia, and we are considering that. But we need to look at the state of possible orders for them in the Middle East to justify the build. We are assessing that now. It would be a win-win for us and for Saudi Arabia,” he said, speaking at the power division’s US HQ in Greenville, South Carolina.
Speaking on Saudi plan of energy diversification and renewables, the GE CEO said, “Any country should be looking to diversify its fuel mix, it is the responsible thing to do to grow the renewable element of your fuel usage. Gas-powered energy generation is the way the industry is going. For a country to give itself the optionality of using other energy sources has to be a good thing.”
If GE starts manufacturing H in Saudi Arabia, it could become the export center for the equipment for the wider Middle East region, and would be a significant step in the Kingdom’s strategy of creating technology jobs for young Saudi citizens.
The project is likely to be discussed on Strazik’s visit to the Middle East next month.