RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the opening of the Sakaka solar power plant on Thursday.
The crown prince also said agreements have been signed for seven new solar power projects across the country.
The projects are part of a push towards renewable energy under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
“During the past weeks, the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative have been announced, which showed that we, as a leading global oil producer, are fully aware of our share of the responsibility in advancing the fight against climate change,” the crown prince said.
“As part of our pioneering role in stabilizing energy markets, we will continue this role to achieve leadership in the field of renewable energy.”
The launch of the Sakaka plant in Jouf represents the Kingdom’s “first steps to utilize renewable energy in the Kingdom,” the crown prince added.
He said construction of the Dumat Al-Jandal wind energy plant was also nearly complete.
The seven planned solar plants, in addition to the Sakaka and Dumat Al-Jandal projects, would produce more than 3,600 megawatts. They would power more than 600,000 homes, and reduce more than 7 million tons of greenhouse emissions.
“Some of these projects have achieved new records, where we registered the lowest cost of purchasing electricity produced from solar energy in the world,” he said.
The crown prince last month announced the Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives to tackle climate change.
Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who inaugurated the Sakaka plant during a ceremony in Jouf, said the new projects “will contribute to … shifting from liquid fuels consumption to gas and renewable energy, which makes them milestones in the development of the energy sector.”
The seven new solar projects will be located in Madinah, Sudair, Qurayyat, Shuaiba, Jeddah, Rabigh and Rafha.
They will be financed by five investment alliances made up of 12 Saudi and international companies.
Prince Abdulaziz praised the private sector’s “fundamental role” in the projects.
The Sakaka plant was developed by ACWA Power, which is 50 percent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
He said 97 percent of the staff operating the Sakaka plant are Saudis, and 90 percent from the Jouf region.
“The completion of these projects, and others, and linking them to the national network, will contribute to strengthening the Kingdom’s capabilities in producing electricity to meet the national need, enhance the reliability of the electrical grid, and support the Kingdom’s ambitious plans to become one of the main countries in the field of producing and exporting electricity using renewable energy,” he said.
PIF said the Sudair project would be one of the largest solar power plants in the world and the largest in the Kingdom.
A consortium supported by the fund signed an agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company for 25 years for the project.
Construction of the plant, located about 130 kilomters north of Riyadh, is expected to start during the second half of 2022, and when complete, will have a production capacity of 1,500 megawatts. It will power 185,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by about 2.9 tons per year.
PIF Governor Yasser Al-Rumayyan said the project “embodies our commitment to invest in the sectors that will shape the future of the global economy.”