Solar power export to Europe planned by KSA

Updated 15 April 2013
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Solar power export to Europe planned by KSA

The Kingdom, which is planning massive investment in renewable energy, hopes to export solar electricity to Europe in winter, says a senior official.
It would be viable for Saudi Arabia to export up to 10 gigawatts, the equivalent of 10 nuclear plants, via North Africa and Italy or Spain, Khalid Al-Sulaiman, vice president for renewable energy at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) was quoted as saying at a conference in Paris.
"It is not a project, it is a potential. It has to be examined thoroughly by all," Al-Sulaiman told Reuters.
According to Reuters, he said solar energy capacity in Saudi Arabia is “almost non-existent” at the moment, with only about 10 to 11 megawatts of capacity installed in the entire country.
But the Kingdom has huge ambitions to build renewable and nuclear capacity as it tries to reduce domestic oil consumption.
The world's top oil exporter said in February it aims to install 24 gigawatt of renewable power capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatt by 2032, which would make Saudi Arabia one of the world's main producers of renewable electricity.
Al-Sulaiman said the first solar tenders will be offered this year.
A challenge for Saudi's electricity sector is that during winter and parts of spring and fall, 45 percent of generation capacity sits idle. Cooling accounts for more than 50 percent of electricity demand in summer.
"We have thoroughly examined the potential for exporting electricity from dormant capacity during the off season to countries where peak demand coincides with our low demand season," Al-Sulaiman said.
He said studies show that the grid investment required to bring Saudi electricity to Europe would amount to between 15 to 20 percent of the total investment required to install some 20 gigawatt renewable generation capacity.
"Our study demonstrates that trading with the EU is economical, depending on the route chosen," he said. Export capacity levels of 3, 5 and 10 gigawatt had been studied.
Transmission cables could go either via North Africa or via Turkey and Bulgaria, but the latter route is less advantageous because Bulgaria is a net exporter of electricity.
The Saudi electricity export plan is similar to the Desertec initiative, which aims to bring power to Europe from North Africa.
Al-Sulaiman said that, unlike Desertec, KACARE's plan would not require a third party to install generation capacity since KACARE would lead generation and connection investment.
He said he hoped European authorities would study the idea.
"If we could reduce the need to install generation capacity by, say, 10 to 20 percent through the ability to trade effectively, the savings would be tremendous," Al-Sulaiman said.
He said the project would take five to 10 years to implement but declined to give a cost estimate. Desertec has been estimated to cost up to 400 billion euros ($ 512 billion).
Jerome Pecresse, president renewable energy at French Alstom, which specializes in power grid equipment, said a Saudi Arabia-Europe link was technically feasible, provided financing is available.
Antoine Cahuzac, head of French utility EDF's renewable energy unit, said public resistance to high-voltage lines will be an obstacle to all long-distance grid projects.
Saudi Arabia has equally ambitious plans to build 17 gigawatt of nuclear power capacity by 2032, and French utility EDF and reactor builder Areva hope to win a slice of the market.
EDF CEO Henri Proglio told the conference Saudi personnel are already in training in EDF facilities.
Recently, UAE reports said Masdar is bidding for a slice of Saudi Arabia›s burgeoning solar market after opening the 100 megawatt Shams-1 plant in Abu Dhabi.
The company is seeking to capitalize on an emerging market as regional oil-exporting economies seek to boost their renewable energy output.
“In the near future we will be announcing projects in the Middle East and North Africa region,” said Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, Mubadala›s clean energy unit, was quoted saying by the UAE media.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the Shams plant, the first of a series of renewable energy projects that will provide 7 per cent of the emirate›s electricity by 2020, according to government plans.
Masdar is the majority owner of Shams, with France›s Total and Spain›s Abengoa sharing the remaining stake.
“Saudi Arabia is one of our target markets,” he said.
“We will go wherever the projects make sense, as long as there is a regulatory framework that is solid, that›s reliable, and as long as the returns meet our commercial thresholds.”
The first tenders for solar plants are scheduled for the first half of this year, when 500 MW to 800MW of generation capacity will be bid for, according to a February white paper by the King Abdullah Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the body overseeing alternative energy development.


Germany: US calling European cars a threat is ‘frightening’

Updated 16 February 2019
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Germany: US calling European cars a threat is ‘frightening’

  • ‘If these cars ... suddenly spell a threat to US national security, then that is frightening to us’

MUNICH, Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday labelled as “frightening” tough US trade rhetoric planning to declare European car imports a national security threat.

“If these cars... suddenly spell a threat to US national security, then that is frightening to us,” she said.

Merkel pointed out that the biggest car plant of German luxury brand BMW was not in Bavaria but in South Carolina, from where it exports vehicles to China.

“All I can say is it would be good if we could resume proper talks with one another,” she said at the Munich Security Conference.

“Then we will find a solution.”

A US Commerce Department report has concluded that auto imports threaten national security, setting the stage for possible tariffs by the White House, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The investigation, ordered by President Donald Trump in May, is “positive” with respect to the central question of whether the imports “impair” US national security, said a European auto industry source.

“It’s going to say that auto imports are a threat to national security,” said an official with another auto company.

The report, which is expected to be delivered to the White House by a Sunday deadline, has been seen as a major risk for foreign automakers.

Trump has threatened to slap 25 percent duties on European autos, especially targeting Germany, which he says has harmed the American car industry.

After receiving the report, the US president will have 90 days to decide whether to move ahead with tariffs.

Trump in July reached a trade truce with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with the two pledging no new tariffs while the negotiations continued.

Brussels has already drawn up a list of €20 billion ($22.6 billion) in US exports for retaliatory tariffs should Washington press ahead, the commission’s Director-General for Trade Jean-Luc Demarty told the European Parliament last month.

The White House has used the national security argument — saying that undermining the American manufacturing base impairs military readiness, among other claims — to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, drawing instant retaliation from the EU, Canada, Mexico and China.

Trading partners have sometimes reacted with outrage at the suggestion their exports posed a threat to US national security.