Saudi Arabia to become major solar power exporter under new plan

The Saudi solar initiative will diversify the national economy and stimulate investment in non-oil industries. The project will also reduce solar power production costs and create employment opportunities, with up to 100,000 jobs in solar power schemes alone. (SPA)
Updated 03 April 2018

Saudi Arabia to become major solar power exporter under new plan

  • Kingdom aims to produce 200 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030
  • Up 100,000 new jobs expected in solar power schemes alone

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to transform its solar power production, in line with the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the country’s economy and end its reliance on oil.
Under the Solar Power Project Plan 2030, the Kingdom expects to produce 200 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
At the launch of the plan, experts said the project will transform the Kingdom into a leading exporter of sustainable energy, thanks to its natural resources and environmentally friendly industries relying on sun, wind, and sand rich in silica.
Solar power will be the world’s largest energy source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.
The Saudi solar initiative will help to diversify the national economy and stimulate investment in non-oil industries. The project will also reduce solar power production costs and create employment opportunities for Saudi workers, with up to 100,000 jobs in solar power schemes alone.
Meanwhile, King Saud University in Riyadh has joined a research project with Japan and Peru to monitor changes in the sun and their effects on Earth.
The Kingdom’s history of solar research goes back 38 years, when King Salman opened the research plant at King Abdul Aziz City — the first solar power site in the Kingdom. The plant provided solar electricity to Uyayna, Jubaila and rural centers near Riyadh.
The solar village, part of a Saudi-US partnership, produces 350 kilowatts of electricity through concentrated photovoltaic complexes.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has outlined Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a “Kingdom of Sustainable Energy” era within five months. In October 2017, Riyadh hosted the beginning of the development of the strategy (Solar Plan 2030) with the participation of the Public Investment Fund and Softbank Vision Fund.
On March 28, during his groundbreaking visit to the US, the crown prince signed a memorandum of understanding with Softbank Vision Fund to create a plant for the project, which would be completed and ready to start production of solar energy by early 2019.
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, president of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, said: “Saudi Arabia’s current energy needs are 75 gigawatts. The 2030 solar plan would enable the Kingdom to export surplus electricity and thus provide alternative energy to the Kingdom’s oil.”


Russia’s Putin lauds good relations with Saudi Arabia, condemns Aramco attacks

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 October 2019

Russia’s Putin lauds good relations with Saudi Arabia, condemns Aramco attacks

  • Moscow could play a key role in easing regional tensions given its good ties with Gulf states and Iran
  • The Russian president made his only trip to Riyadh way back in 2007

RIYADH: Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia and condemned the recent attacks on state-owned Aramco oil facilities.
Putin said such attacks only strengthened cooperation between oil producers inside and outside OPEC, an alliance known as OPEC+, and that Russia would work with its partners to reduce attempts to destabilize markets.
As President Donald Trump reinstated US sanctions, increasing pressure on Iran’s economy, there have been a series of attacks in Saudi Arabia and in Gulf waters that Washington and close allies have blamed on Iran, which denies responsibility.
Putin told Arab broadcasters in an interview aired on Sunday ahead of his visit to the Kingdom in more than a decade, that he has “very good relations” with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Russian president is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Monday and then heads to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
Putin said that there has been a 38 percent growth in economic cooperation between the Kingdom and Russia.
Russia’s Direct Investment Fund and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have created a base of $10 billion, with $2 billion in investments, he added.
Russian petrochemicals company Sibur Holding is looking to build a petrochemical complex worth more than $1 billion in investments, Putin also said.
Syrian Conflict
On Syria, where Russia and Iran have been key allies of President Bashar Assad in an 8-1/2-year civil war, the Russian president said they would not have been able to reach a positive outcome without Saudi cooperation.
“I would like to emphasize the positive role Saudi Arabia has played in resolving the Syrian crisis … without Saudi Arabia’s contribution toward a Syrian settlement, it would have been impossible to achieve a positive trend,” he said, thanking King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman for their “constructive approach.”
He said Moscow supports the Assad regime in Syria, not because they have no blame in the situation but to prevent terrorist organizations from infiltrating the war-torn country.
“We are working with Turkey and Iran to resolve the Syrian conflict, but without Saudi it would not be possible to come to a good solution,” he said.
A congress convened by Russia last year tasked the United Nations envoy for Syria with forming a committee to draft a new constitution, after many rounds of talks to end the war failed.
UN officials say forming a constitutional committee is key to political reforms and new elections meant to unify Syria and end a war which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced about half of the pre-war 22 million population.
Turkey launched an assault last week against Kurdish forces in border areas of northern Syria, saying it seeks to set up a “safe zone” to resettle Syrian refugees but raising international alarm over the possibility of Daesh militants escaping from prisons.
Iran Deal
Asked if Moscow supported new a return to negotiations with Iran to limit its missile program as Trump has called for enforcing the nuclear deal first, Putin said the two issues should be dealt with separately.
“Most likely it (the missiles) can and should be discussed ... The missile program is one thing and the nuclear program is another thing,” he said. “Of course, this is necessary, but there is no need to merge one with the other...”
OPEC+
The Russian president said OPEC+ was an initiative introduced by the crown prince to increase their cooperation in oil sector, and that he was the one who suggested to expand military collaboration between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia was not just a regional energy player but also a global one, and “we care about our cooperation,” Putin said.
The Russian leader added that anything that threatens energy trade stability must be stopped, and “we should work together” to stop it.
Aramco Attacks
Putin also condemned the Sept. 14 attacks on Aramco facilities, noting “such actions do not bring any positive results to anybody, including perpetrators,” as they do not have a strong effect on the market.
“We condemn any such actions, end of story. This is the official position … regardless of who stood behind the incident,” said Putin.
He insisted Russia’s intelligence community does not know who perpetrated the Aramco attacks, but he also said that his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, has denied Tehran’s complicity in the attacks. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Riyadh and Washington blamed Tehran.
However, Putin said: “It is wrong to determine who is guilty before it is known reliably and clearly who is behind this act,” Putin said, adding that he had agreed to help investigate the attack.
“If someone may have wanted to deal a blow to the oil market, they failed. There were indeed some fluctuations in prices, but I do not think it was anything too serious, even though the initial response was quite strong.
“We need to respond to any attempt to destabilize the market. Russia will certainly continue working with Saudi Arabia and other partners and friends in the Arab world to counter any attempts to wreak havoc in the market,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya.
Putin believes Russia can play a positive role in resolving regional disagreements, because of Moscow’s positive relations with the Arab world, Iranians, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.