Saudi Arabia announces 2.6GW solar project near Mecca

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Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy announces signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Prince of Makkah Region to start developing a 2.6GW solar project.

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Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy announced over the weekend the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Prince of Makkah Region to start developing a 2.6 GW solar project.

The Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Khalid bin Abdul Aziz Al-Faleh, signed the MoU with the impressively titled Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Prince of Makkah Region, who oversees the development of the region.

The Makkah Region of Saudi Arabia is a province in the larger Hejaz Region which is home to the two holiest mosques in Islam – the Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

The newly-announced 2.6 GW Al Faisaliah Solar Project will provide clean electricity to the country’s electricity network in the Western region and Al Faisaliah city at peak times as the region’s population and energy demand continues to increase.

600 MW of the project will be tendered later this year by the country’s Renewable Energy Projects Development Office (REPDO), while the remaining 2 GW will be developed by the country’s Public Investment Fund and selected partners.

Saudi Arabia’s REPDO hinted at this project earlier this year, as reported by pv magazine,when it promised it would tender 2,225 MW of solar this year, including the 600 MW “Alfaisalia project” (as described by pv magazine) – which is obviously the Al Faisaliah Solar Project.

At the same time, REPDO increased its solar targets to 20 GW by 2023, up from 4.9 GW, and with a renewables target of 27.3 GW, up from 9.5 GW by the same year. REPDO also set a 2030 target of 40 GW solar and 58.7 GW for renewables as a whole.

In line with the country’s plans to significantly increase its renewable energy capacity, it was also announced in January that French-based renewable energy company EDF Renewables and Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar had been awarded the contract to build the 400 MW Dumat Al Jandal wind farm, which will be the first wind farm to be built in Saudi Arabia and the largest in the Middle East.

The joint-partnership won the competitive bid process with a bid of only $21.3/MWh, well below expectations.

Thus, according to the Ministry of Energy’s Sunday press release announcing the planned Al Faisaliah Solar Project, the newly-signed “”MoU is in line with the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2030, and within the efforts of the Ministry of Energy to diversify the energy mix to reach a sustainable mix that benefits from renewable energy sources, in addition to optimizing the use of hydrocarbon and mineral resources to achieve sustainable development of the national economy.”

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