RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aims to generate 50 percent of the nation’s power needs using renewable energy by 2030, with the remainder provided by gas.
This goal was highlighted on Tuesday during the 11th session of the General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in a speech by Khalid Al-Sultan, president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. He is leading the Kingdom’s delegation at the virtual event, which began on Monday and continues until Thursday.
The Saudi delegation expressed its appreciation for the efforts being made by IRENA to achieve its goal of promoting the use of renewable energy at global and regional levels.
Al-Sultan said the Kingdom is working to create a sustainable renewable energy sector that includes industries, services, the localization of technologies, and the development of human resources. It is doing this by identifying the main frameworks required for building the sector.
“The Saudi Ministry of Energy has approved policies stimulating the participation of the private sector in this field, and updated regulations for renewable energy projects to achieve the goals of the National Renewable Energy Program, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, under the direct and continuous supervision of the minister of energy,” he added.
The ministry is working to transform the energy sector into a system that harnesses the Kingdom’s capabilities in energy research and measurement, data collection, regulation and development, and renewable energy, in cooperation with all relevant entities in the sector.
Al-Sultan also congratulated Spain on its role as president of the assembly, along with vice-presidents Albania, Costa Rica, Ghana and India, and welcomed countries that have recently joined the agency.
He highlighted the importance of all nations working together amid the exceptional global challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and praised the spirit of solidarity and cooperation in facing global challenges and crises in an effort to overcome them and build a more prosperous future for all.
The Kingdom has launched several projects and initiatives with this in mind, Al-Sultan said. They include a green hydrogen production project in the nation’s NEOM smart-city development, and projects by Saudi Aramco and its subsidiary SABIC to capture and store carbon and use it in the manufacture and use of products such as blue ammonia, as endorsed by G20 leaders.
He added that projects such as these represent a comprehensive, integrated and realistic approach to managing emissions to prevent global warming.
“The Kingdom also launched a myriad of other projects and initiatives aimed at enabling new technologies in the field of renewable energy, increasing local content in industrial and service value chains, localizing Saudi know-how and investing in it commercially, and qualifying the necessary human capital,” said Al-Sultan.
Mohammad Alasheikh, an associate professor in the nuclear energy department at King Saud University, told Arab News that greater use of renewable energy is a goal for many countries as it is relatively inexpensive and can reduce levels of polluting carbon emissions.
“Our country has the capacity and capability,” he said. “For example, Riyadh has high levels of sun brightness (for solar power). However, alternative solutions should be studied extensively and thoroughly, as the energy-mix policy needs wise choices to avoid the disadvantages.
“For instance one of the negative aspects of solar energy is severe chemical pollution, which has an impact on energy factories and plants. Nuclear energy’s main negative side is nuclear waste and the big (investment in) capital and resources.”
Alasheikh said that academic and scientific institutions in the Kingdom can work together to develop the renewable-energy policies that most benefit the country. He added that the Ministry of Energy should work closely with Saudi universities to build national capacities in the sector, so that they can operate and maintain national organizations.
The engineering faculties at King Abdulaziz University and King Saud University “have played a pivotal role in qualifying Saudi nuclear-energy engineers” for example, he said.