Saudi’s Solar Energy to Equal Its Oil Exports, Al-Naimi Says

Saudi Arabia plans to generate solar electricity equaling the amount of its energy from crude exports, Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has the potential by 2020 to produce enough solar power to meet more than four times global demand for electricity, al-Naimi said yesterday in a speech in Krakow, Poland, posted on the Saudi Press Agency website.

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil producers are boosting power supplies to service growing economies and populations. They are also looking for ways to use less of their exportable oil and gas as fuel for power stations.

The Kingdom may need to burn as much as 3 million barrels of oil a day by 2020 if it doesn’t improve efficiency. That’s up from 800,000 barrels of oil equivalent now to generate power facilities that are under development, Ziyad Al Shiha, the executive director of Saudi Aramco Power Systems, told reporters on May 15 at a conference in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Al-Naimi said Saudi Aramco is planning to build the Kingdom’s biggest solar energy plant, which would produce 10 megawatts of power.

Saudi Electricity Co. will join Saudi Aramco and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. to develop a solar-power plant that can generate as much as 15 megawatts of electricity on Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Island, Ali al-Barrak, the head of the utility company, said June 1.

Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries need to have the right policies to encourage electricity generation from solar resources, John Krenicki, chief executive officer of GE’s energy division, said June 1 in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

“Today there is no market for solar in Saudi Arabia and the region because there are no right tariffs to support it,” he said.

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