In the motion to end the era powered by fossil fuels, Saudi Arabia is also looking out for renewable and environmentally friendly alternatives for their energy consumption. Saudi Arabia is clearly interested in solar energy and the government plans to expand it exponentially in the kingdom. This is particularly because the one thing that the country abundantly has is: sunlight.
Specialized bodies for renewables and energy efficiency have been developed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to help with the energy transition. The implementation of Saudi Vision 2030, has put a greater emphasis on the use of renewable energy sources in the country’s energy mix. Solar energy is the kingdom’s most abundant renewable energy source. A number of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects have recently been announced with the aim of providing electricity at very low costs. The Saudi government has implemented electricity tariffs and implemented energy efficiency initiatives in order to minimize electricity demand and thereby reduce peak load. The peak of the energy load curve is close to the peak of the solar irradiance curve. As a result, producing electricity from solar energy is a strong strategic option. The solar energy industry is expanding in response to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plans.
It is evident that solar is the obvious answer for Saudi Arabia’s renewable questions. Saudi Arabia, along with some of the world’s richest oil reserves, also has the strongest sunlight. It also has vast swaths of open desert that seem to be made for solar-panel installations. Saudi Arabia set a new renewable goal of developing and building 58.7 gigawatts (GW) of clean power sources over the next ten years in January 2019. The construction of 40 GW of photovoltaic (PV) solar power is part of the 2030 target. Saudi Arabia began the third round of its renewable energy program in early 2020, with the goal of adding 1.2 GW of solar photovoltaic power capacity to the grid and open competition for six solar energy projects totaling 1.2 GW. As a result, the renewable energy market in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow during the forecast period, thanks to increased investment and upcoming solar PV projects.
By 2023, Saudi Arabia plans to install 27.3 GW of renewable energy, the majority of which, 20 GW, would be solar PV. This number is projected to exceed 40 GW by 2030. Due to the substantial reduction in the cost of solar PV, this high level of solar generation is possible. The government is expected to establish legal and regulatory structures for the deployment of renewable energy resources, as well as attracting private sector investment and fostering public-private partnerships. Despite its limited manufacturing ability for PV value-chain products, Saudi Arabia’s PV industry is expected to become the region’s leading market for PV grid-connected projects in the coming years.
Saudi Arabia has signed power purchase agreements with seven new solar ventures, which will provide electricity to over 600,000 homes. These ventures, as well as other renewable energy projects being implemented in the Kingdom, are critical components of the efforts to optimize the energy mix used to generate electricity. Some of these ventures have set new world records for solar-generated electricity costs.
Covid-19 has had a major effect on nations and industries around the world, including the clean energy industry. As a result of the pandemic’s effect on different sectors, both commercial and industrial segments have reduced their electricity use. Various pandemic-related factors such as slow constructions, lack of resources and others have contributed to the economy’s significant weakening. Also, Saudi Arabia’s economic growth projections for 2020 show a steep recession due to the same reasons. Short-term delays in solar projects are anticipated as a result of solar supply chain constraints caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. Solar markets all over the world rely heavily on Chinese solar panels and photovoltaic cells, and delivery of this equipment is expected to be delayed as a result of provisional disruptive containment steps that have hampered manufacturing and development due to labour and logistical mobility issues.
Given the country’s Covid-19 challenges, the solar sector is doing well in the short term of 2020. Recovering from the Covid-19 impact would probably not take a lot of time for the region. Moving back to the subject, the solar industry takes a cleaner and more environmentally friendly approach to generating energy, contributing to an environmental revolution and establishing a sustainable industry in Saudi Arabia. This industry is also capable of laying the groundwork for a regionally competitive local industry. Moreover, Saudi Arabia also stands tall as an example for other nations to put on their thinking caps and innovative shoes to walk the road to renewables.