Riyadh plans to surpass its commitment to generate 9.5 gigawatts of energy from renewables in order to boost its commitment to green energy and climate-friendly initiatives, according to a government official who spoke to Reuters.
“We plan to exceed 9.5 gigawatts,” Turki al-Shehri of the Renewable Energy Project Development Office said during a Sino-Saudi investment forum in Jeddah. “The whole idea of this is to give investors a sense of comfort that the Kingdom has a long-term vision for renewable energy.”
Saudi plans to meet its 9.5 GW goal by 2023 by investing between $30 billion and $50 billion in 60 green energy projects. The end goal is to generate 30 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with the remainder to come from natural gas. Shehri did not offer more details on the extent of the KSA’s plan to surpass this goal.
The Saudi government has been talking a big game on renewable energy for several years now. To date, the country only has a measly 10 megawatts of capacity, a single project located at the headquarters of Saudi Aramco, Bloomberg reports. In fact, the government has gone back and forth on its solar ambitions in recent years. Back in 2012, the government laid out a proposal to install 41 GW of solar by 2032, using a mix of photovoltaics and concentrated solar power (CSP). The ramp up was to begin immediately.
There was little news regarding the solar push even as the country continued to burn valuable barrels of oil for electricity – at a time when crude often traded above $100 per barrel. The collapse of oil prices in 2014 dashed all urgency for a clean energy transition.
Last year, the Saudi government sought to revive its solar program, although with much more modest goals. The 2030 goal was vastly scaled back, with a target of only 9.5 GW of renewable energy instead of the original 41 GW.