Saudi Arabia to invest $30-50bn in renewable energy by 2023

Saudi Minister of Energy, Industrial and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih, speaks during the 10th edition of the World Future Energy Summit on Monday in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
Updated 15 March 2017
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Saudi Arabia to invest $30-50bn in renewable energy by 2023

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is launching a renewable energy program in the next few weeks that is expected to invest $30-$50 billion by 2023, Energy, Industry and Mineral Recourses Minister Khalid Al-Falih announced Monday.
Al-Falih said at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that the Kingdom would start the first round of bidding for projects under the program, which would produce 10GW of power.
He also said that Saudi Arabia is in the early stages of studying its first two commercial nuclear reactors with a total of 2.8GW. Al-Falih told Reuters that, “there will be significant investment in nuclear energy.”
The minister also said Saudi Arabia was working on ways to connect its renewable energy projects with Yemen, Jordan and Egypt.
“We will connect to Africa to exchange non-fossil sources of energy,” he said.
The step falls into the country’s targets set in Vision 2030, launched last year to prepare for a post-oil era following a plunge in oil prices. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, plans to reduce its reliance on oil and diversify the economy by moving toward sustainable sources rather than depending on fossil oil.
Renewable energy is listed among the sectors to be launched, as the Vision reads: “In the manufacturing sector, we will work toward localizing renewable energy and industrial equipment sectors.”
John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Riyadh-based Gulf Research Center, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia has a “considerable solar power potential” that can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
“Saudi Arabia wants to balance economic needs against environmental goals as it has considerable solar power potential and is eager to reduce its use of fossil fuels,” Sfakianakis said. “The country ranks high in per capita greenhouse gas CO2 emissions.”
Achieving the ambitious renewable energy program by 2023 needs time, technical knowledge and capacity, and above all coordination between various stakeholders, according to energy expert Mohamed Ramady.
“The fact that there are many stakeholders in Saudi Arabia involved in the renewable energy program, such as KACST, KACARE, KAPSARC and KAUST among others ensures some duplication of effort and above all lack of specific focus for renewables,” said Ramady, a former professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.
He told Arab News that whether the focus would be on solar or nuclear energy would determine the policy and would lead to different paths and options in terms of domestic and international cooperation.
“If nuclear energy option is the preferred option, then Saudi Arabia has to assess whether current leaders using such energy like France, South Korea and Finland are still committed to this renewable energy source in the long term and whether their technology transfer and nuclear waste programs can be safely transferred,” Ramady said.
Achieving a viable large-scale renewable energy application is not as easy as it sounds, according to Ramady.
“The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) MASDAR renewable energy model city initiative was a path breaker with mixed success, but from which valuable lessons can be learned by Saudi Arabia,” he said. “However, in the meantime starting off by installing smart electricity household meters coupled with incentives to save energy could help to reduce pressure on the government in the face of potential lower oil prices and revenues.”
The Riyadh-based King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) stated that hydrocarbons would remain a prime element in the energy mix in 2023, by an estimation of 60GW. This will also be supported with nuclear energy at 17.6GW, solar at 41GW, of which 16GW will be generated through the use of photovoltaic cells and the balance of 25GW by concentrated solar power, wind at 9GW, waste-to-energy at 3GW and geothermal at 1GW.
Renewable energy is increasingly becoming a new sector in the country and is expected to expand until the new renewable energy program can reach its target by 2023.
“By creating an entirely new sector for the economy, jobs will be generated as it moves into more advanced areas of the production chain. Job creation for Saudis and a cleaner environment are important goals of Vision 2030 for better quality of life values,” said Sfakianakis.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report on renewable energy market analysis in the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) region, Saudi Arabia is the world’s seventh largest oil consumer. Domestic consumption of oil witnessed a surge in the 2000s rising from 17 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2014. The report, published in 2016, estimated that achieving the GCC renewable energy targets could create an average of 140,000 direct jobs per year.


Turkish lira hits record low, down 20 pct against dollar this year

Updated 23 May 2018
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Turkish lira hits record low, down 20 pct against dollar this year

ISTANBUL: The Turkish lira tumbled more than 5 percent on Wednesday before recovering some ground, the latest drop in a sell-off that reflects growing investor alarm over the direction of monetary policy under President Tayyip Erdogan.
The decline, exacerbated by stop-loss selling by Japanese retail investors overnight, brings the lira’s losses to more than 20 percent so far this year and puts it on track for its worst monthly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.
The sell-off has also increased expectations that the central bank may be forced to call an extraordinary meeting to raise interest rates before its next scheduled policy-setting meeting on June 7, as it has done in previous years.
“We expect the MPC to hold an interim meeting over the coming days to raise interest rates by at least 200bp,” Jason Tuvey of Capital Economics said in a note to clients.
“If policymakers refrain from tightening monetary policy, the risk of a disorderly adjustment and a sharp economic downturn (possibly recession) will mount.”
The lira was at 4.8500 at 0855 GMT from its close of 4.6746 on Tuesday. It earlier touched a record low of 4.9290. It also fell against the Japanese yen, amid talk Japanese retail investors were selling the lira as it hit stop-loss levels.
“We are bearish on the lira and always have been given its very weak external balances and with macroeconomic policy moving in the wrong direction as well,” said Kiran Kowshik, emerging markets forex strategist at UniCredit.
A self-described “enemy of interest rates,” Erdogan wants borrowing costs lowered to spur credit growth and construction, and he said last week he would seek greater control over monetary policy after elections set for June 24.
Economy officials told Reuters the government’s economic management team met at the start of this week to discuss potential measures, including possible steps by the central bank. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek and Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya attended the meeting.
Ratings agencies sounded alarm about monetary policy. S&P Global senior sovereign analyst Frank Gill told Reuters government finances could deteriorate rapidly if authorities failed to stem pressure on the currency and government borrowing costs .
Investors want to see decisive rate increases to rein in double-digit inflation, and Erdogan’s comments have reinforced long-standing worries about the central bank’s ability to do that.
Borsa Istanbul Group, the Istanbul stock exchange company, said in a statement on Wednesday it had converted its foreign currency assets into lira, aside from its short-term needs, in a step to support the Turkish currency.
The lira’s weakness was exacerbated by dollar gains against a basket of currencies, with investors awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting for hints on the pace of monetary tightening.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond rose to 15.30 percent at the opening from a last trade of 14.92 percent on Tuesday.
The main BIST 100 share index fell 0.22 percent to 103,105 points on Tuesday.