Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders
The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 20 January 2020

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders

Saudi Arabia joins club of Middle East’s ‘green energy’ leaders
  • Government plans to invest up to $50bn in renewable energy projects by 2023
  • Demand for electricity in the Kingdom is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabia has become one of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s leaders in the race to use renewable energy, according to a new study.

The Solar Outlook Report 2020 was launched at the Solar Forum of the World Future Energy Summit, a highlight of this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Jan. 11-18).
The report, prepared by Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA), the largest regional body of its kind, said Saudi Arabia and Oman have joined the UAE, Morocco and Egypt as leaders in the renewables race.
“Saudi Arabia is now in the third year of implementation of its massive target of 60 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy generation by 2030,” it said.
Martine Mamlouk, secretary-general of MESIA, said that investment in solar energy is evident across MENA countries. “Saudi Arabia has a target of almost 60 gigawatts of renewable energy, out of which 40 gigawatts are solar,” she told Arab News.
“This is in line with the Kingdom’s objective of diversification and Vision 2030. While the industry is reaching grid parity, it is great to see the deployment of new innovative technologies to increase efficiency of systems, production management and grids.”
Upcoming solar projects in the Kingdom include Madinah, Rafh, Qurayyat, Al-Faisaliah, Rabigh as well as Jeddah, Mahd Al-Dahab, Al-Rass, SAAD and Wadi Ad-Dawasir, along with Layla and PIF.
Saudi Arabia’s energy demand has been rising steadily, with consumption increasing by 60 percent in the past 10 years, according to data provided by market researchers Frost & Sullivan. Demand for electricity in 2019 reached 62.7 GW and is forecast to rise by up to 120 GW by 2030.
The value of solar-power projects in the MENA region is estimated at between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. By 2024, that figure is expected to approach $15 billion to $20 billion.
Under its Vision 2030 program, the Kingdom aims to reduce its dependency on oil revenues, diversify its energy mix and tap its renewable energy potential.




Saudi Acwa power-generating windmills that have been erected in Jbel Sendouq, on the outskirts of Tangier, Morocco. (Reuters)

After the Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) was set up within the Ministry of Energy, the goals for the Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) were revised upwards in 2018, resulting in a five-year target of 27.3 GW and a 12-year target of 58.7 GW.
The Saudi government plans to invest up to $50 billion in renewable energy projects by 2023.
“At MESIA, we are excited to see solar developments in the MENA region accelerating and reaching attractive tariffs, while lowering the carbon footprint of regional economies,” Mamlouk said.
“The total investment in renewables in MENA between 2019 and 2023 is expected to be $71.4 billion, representing a 34 percent share of the total investment in the power sector, which is valued at $210 billion.”
Changes introduced by Saudi Arabia include a focus on local developers and easing of regulations for local manufacturers of solar panels.
A Local Content and Government Procurement Authority has been established to oversee and audit local content compliance.
Separately, a Renewable Energy Financing package has been launched by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to support the growth of utility and distributed-generation sectors.
After solar photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of a mosque in Riyadh, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center recommended a similar move at other mosques.
Meanwhile, plans for the use of solar panels in the Saudi agro-industry have led to burgeoning interest in the technology, with several industrial facilities expected to have their own units in the not-too-distant future.
For good measure, a regulatory framework to allow exchanges with the power grid is being studied by the Electricity Co-generation Regulatory Authority.
Flexible storage solutions, such as hydrogen, will give intermittent renewable energy a greater share in the energy system, Mamlouk said. “It may enable present-day oil and gas exporters to become key renewable energy exporters tomorrow. The solar industry is thrilled and proud to participate in this profound transformation of Saudi Arabia’s energy system.”
In the past year solar tariffs have fallen to record low levels in the MENA region, mainly due to tremendous cost declines that have brought the goal of grid parity within reach.
With installed solar electricity capacity worldwide standing at 617.9 GW, MENA governments are staying focused on energy diversification with the help of large-scale projects.
In the UAE, Dubai is targeting the completion of a 5 GW facility by 2030 at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park. Abu Dhabi has “engaged” its second-largest solar project and is considering the roll-out of more units by 2025.

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62.7GW - Demand for electricity in Saudi Arabia in 2019

Morocco aims to reach 52 percent contribution by renewables in its energy mix by 2030. The figures for Tunisia and Egypt are 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, by 2022.
Oman expects solar-power plants totaling 1.5 GW to come on stream by the end of 2022. Even Iraq, with all its political troubles and administrative paralysis, has not ignored solar power in drawing up plans for its future energy mix.
“Investments in renewable energy have reached billions in all Arab countries,” Mohammed Al-Taani, secretary-general of the Arab Renewable Energy Commission, said.
“Jordan is spending more on renewable energy, and we encourage people to have more independence with renewables by generating their own electricity to reduce their bills.”


Nevertheless challenges remain when it comes to implementing projects in rural and isolated areas, according to Mustapha Taoumi, a technology expert at the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network. “With regard to issues of power grid and access to the people, we have to prepare for everything and be ready to receive new technology because there are communities with little income and education,” he said.
“Then there is the challenge of implementation on the part of different actors and sectors. Social acceptance is also important as we come with new technologies and (information on) how to use them.
“We have to be innovative when it comes to financing the facilitation process. We have to be fair and democratic,” he said.
Although this is an exciting time for the region, governments will have to step up their efforts since they are still subsidizing the cost of power, Taoumi said.
“Technologies are evolving quickly, so decision-making must keep pace,” he said. “We could end up having smart meters in rural and isolated areas in two to three years.”


France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran

France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran
Updated 20 min 16 sec ago

France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran

France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran
  • Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed 17 Houthi drones launched toward the Kingdom’s southern region on Saturday
  • Rights groups said Raisi’s election as Iran’s new president was a blow for human rights

LONDON: France said it strongly condemned the Houthi drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, and called on the militia to immediately stop their destabilizing attacks in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed 17 drones launched toward the Kingdom’s southern region on Saturday, the Arab coalition said.
A booby-trapped drone targeted Khamis Mushait early in the morning before seven more targeting the southern region were intercepted in Yemeni airspace during the afternoon.
Khamis Mushait was again targeted by two drones in the evening and another drone targeted Najran late Saturday before six more were shot down near midnight.
The Arab coalition said the Houthi’s deliberate and systematic escalation against Yemen constituted a war crime, as the Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking the Kingdom with explosive-laden drones on an almost daily basis in recent weeks despite calls from the international community for a cease-fire in Yemen.
France said it was also concerned about human rights in Iran after Ebrahim Raisi has been elected as president.
President-elect Raisi, 60, won Friday’s election in which more than half the voters stayed away after many political heavyweights had been barred from running and as an economic crisis driven by US sanctions has battered the country.
Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric who heads Iran’s judiciary, will replace former President Hassan Rouhani.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Saturday said Raisi’s election as Iran’s new president was a blow for human rights and called for him to be investigated over his role in what Washington and rights groups have called the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
(With AFP and Reuters)


Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases
  • The Kingdom says1,510 patients recovered in past 24 hours

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 14 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,691.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,212 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 475,403 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,584 remain active and 1,489 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 376, followed by the capital Riyadh with 233, the Eastern Province with 224, Asir recorded 103, and Jazan confirmed 80 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,510 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 457,128.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs carried out more than 22,000 inspection tours in mosques across the Kingdom during the past week to ensure that health and preventative measures are being implemented.
The ministry said that these monitoring tours are ongoing by mosque observers in the regions, and there are field monitoring committees working around the clock to remove all violations and take all legal measures.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 179 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.88 million.


Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties

Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties
Updated 21 June 2021

Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties

Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties

DUBAI: Saudi Prince Mansour bin Khalid Al-Saud has submitted a copy of his credentials to Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to become the Saudi ambassador to Doha. 

He is the first to be reinstated by Arab states that had agreed to end a row with Qatar earlier this year. 

Al-Thani wished the new Saudi ambassador success in his duties, assuring him of all support to advance bilateral relations between the two countries to achieve closer cooperation in various fields, according to state-run Qatar News Agency. 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain had agreed in January to end the boycott imposed in mid-2017 and restore political, trade and travel ties with Doha. Riyadh has taken the lead among the four in re-establishing relations.


Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes

Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes
According to ADAA, Saudi Arabia ranked among the top countries in three international indexes, among the world’s eight top countries in two indexes and among the 20 top countries in two others. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes

Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes
  • ADAA follows up on the Kingdom’s progress and performance through the International Performance Hub, which compares the Kingdom’s performance against 217 other countries

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has placed it at the highest ranks on several international indexes according to the National Center for Performance Measurement (ADAA) for the years 2020-2021.
According to ADAA, Saudi Arabia ranked among the top countries in three international indexes, among the world’s eight top countries in two indexes and among the 20 top countries in two others.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the Kingdom ranked first worldwide in the response of entrepreneurs and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two indexes measured the levels of entrepreneurial motivation as Vision 2030 provided an ideal and flexible business environment able to withstand challenges such as the pandemic.

SPEEDREAD

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the Kingdom ranked first worldwide in the response of entrepreneurs and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kingdom has maintained its advanced position in the “food standards” indicator, where it was ranked first in 2020. This indicator is considered one of the sub-components of the “food security” index, released annually by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to measure food security in countries based on four indicators: Food affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.
“The pandemic has forced many in the food industry to rethink our strategies and elevate our standards, providing the best food quality and services for our customers,” Mohammed Saleh, a restaurant owner based in Riyadh and Jeddah, told Arab News. “Our customers always come first and the quality of food was always a top priority but now with the extra care and precautions, customer satisfaction and safety is even more important.”
“Many restaurant owners I know have put into consideration all the changes that needed to be made to ensure that both quality and safety go hand in hand,” Saleh added. “We’ll only go forward from here.”
During the peak of the pandemic, the Kingdom jumped to eighth position among 113 countries in “the national food supply sufficiency” indicator and came ahead of 105 countries in growth of production of cereals and vegetables, climbing nine spots in the indicator in comparison to 2019. In the post-harvest and pre-consumption crops’ safety indicator, the Kingdom made significant progress, ranked among the 20 top countries worldwide.
The Kingdom has also come a long way in most of the indicators of the soft power index, measured based on three key performance indicators (KPIs): Reputation, familiarity and influence, where it ranked 20th and came ahead of 85 countries in its response to the pandemic, according to the Brand Finance report.
ADAA follows up on the Kingdom’s progress and performance through the International Performance Hub, which compares the Kingdom’s performance against 217 other countries. ADAA monitors and follows up on international indicators while the hub provides an overview of the Kingdom’s performance in 700 KPIs under 12 main pillars.


Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app

Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app
The boarding passes are issued electronically to passengers whose status in the app is “immune,” “immune by first dose,” “immune by recovery” or “no record of infection”
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app

Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app
  • Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track COVID-19 infections

RIYADH: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has announced the completion of linking the issuance of boarding passes for domestic flights for all national airlines with the health status in the Tawakkalna app.
The boarding passes are issued electronically to passengers whose status in the app is “immune,” “immune by first dose,” “immune by recovery” or “no record of infection.”
The initiative is the result of cooperation with government agencies — namely the Presidency of State Security, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, and the Health Ministry — and with national airlines.
Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track COVID-19 infections. It has since been updated to include vaccination information and infection status reports. It also functions as a COVID-19 “passport.”
Earlier, GACA said that all foreign travelers and their companions traveling to the Kingdom must complete registration for their COVID-19 immunization data before departure. The registration is applicable to all citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, holders of new visas, residents, and their companions, both inoculated and non-vaccinated.