BE2C2 Report — As part of Saudi Vision 2030 to transform economy to non-oil on public and private partnership basis, companies from France and Japan were among 51 firms shortlisted on Monday to bid for solar and wind energy projects in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.
Virtually all of the kingdom’s domestic power currently comes from crude, refined oil or natural gas. With renewables added to the energy mix, the Kingdom would be able to shift dependency on fossil fuel to green energy smoothly going forward, analysts say.
Therefore, as part of an economic reform plan to wean the kingdom off oil, the government has set a target of 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023 with $50 billion in investment — local and foreign.
It invited local and international firms to seek pre-qualification for bidding on two projects, a 300 MW solar facility, and a 400 MW wind power development. Aramco is installing wind turbines in the northeast region of Turaif to power its project. The wind tower is 84m high with 60m long blades and a nacelle (turbine housing unit) weighing 83 tons.
The energy ministry said it received 128 applications, from which it chose 27 firms to bid on the sun power project and 24 for the wind farm.
Most were foreign companies, including EDF Energies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of the French public energy company, along with Marubeni Corp and Mitsui & Co of Japan.
EDF Group last month announced it has joined Masdar-led consortium for developing the 800MW third phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai — the largest single-site solar park in the world, with a planned capacity of 5,000MW by 2030, and a total investment of US$14 billion.
Other qualifiers came from Canada, South Korea and elsewhere, while Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power also met the ‘clear set of criteria that ensures bidders are both experienced and capable of delivering utility scale renewable energy projects’, a ministry statement said.
The market’s response shows ‘confidence in our vast renewable energy potential and investment environment’, Khaled al-Falih, the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources, said in the statement.
Qualified firms have until July to present their formal proposals, the ministry has said.
The ministry added it would announce the next phase of its renewable energy projects in Riyadh on April 17-18 — it is holding a free seminar on renewable energy in capital Riyadh on these dates.
Industry experts are taking keen interest in Saudi solar projects after Abu Dhabi last year accepted bid from a consortium to produce electricity at 2.42 US cents per kilowatt hour — cheapest so far in the MENA region as well as globally according to reports.
The $872 million solar power plant will be the world’s largest. Power generated from the new 1177MW plant would be sold to Abu Dhabi.
Last month Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) announced it had selected a consortium of Japan’s Marubeni Corp and China’s JinkoSolar Holding to build and operate the solar plant. The duo was selected from six bids received by the authority in September 2016.
A special-purpose company – owned by Marubeni (20 per cent), JinkoSolar (20 per cent) and Adwea with a 60 per cent stake – will construct, own, operate and maintain the PV plant, said the company in a statement.
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