Saudi Arabia, Middle East invest heavily in solar power, says Nextracker executive

Special Saudi Arabia, Middle East invest heavily in solar power, says Nextracker executive
Nextracker was also selected to provide its smart solar trackers and TrueCapture technology for phase one of the Sudair Solar PV Plant, Saudi Arabia’s largest solar power plant currently under construction in Sudair. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 04 April 2022

Saudi Arabia, Middle East invest heavily in solar power, says Nextracker executive

Saudi Arabia, Middle East invest heavily in solar power, says Nextracker executive
  • US company building is helping regional countries reduce dependence on traditional sources of energy

RIYADH: A leading US solar power company is building several renewable power plants in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East as part of efforts to reduce dependence on traditional and costly sources of energy and decrease carbon emissions.

“We were fortunate to win our first 405-megawatt project in Saudi Arabia which we secured in 2018. This project has become a flagship in the Kingdom and this is really an example of a solar tracker project with excellent performance,” Marco Garcia, chief commercial officer at Nextracker, told Arab News.

Nextracker was also selected to provide its smart solar trackers and TrueCapture technology for phase one of the Sudair Solar PV Plant (450 MW), Saudi Arabia’s largest solar power plant currently under construction in Sudair.

When complete, it will provide clean energy to meet the needs of 185,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions in the Kingdom by 2.9 tons annually, according to the company.

The Sudair Solar PV IPP Project is developed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) through its subsidiary Badeel/WEHC, Saudi Aramco and ACWA Power.

“The consortium partners have entrusted the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract with the renewables arm of global construction giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T),” according to the company.

“The use of local manufacturers for Sudair’s steel production needs will also have significant economic impact,” Garcia said.

Nextracker works with local Saudi steel manufacturing partners for the installation of domestic solar projects as well for steel export to support the development of solar projects around the world.

He stressed that this project in Saudi Arabia has created more than jobs in the Kingdom. “Not only was there were additional job creation, we are using Saudi made steel tubes and trackers that were made in the Kingdom by our partners. So that’s very exciting. In addition, there’s technology with bi-facial modules that will be mounted on the Sudair tracker project,” Garcia explained.

In 2021, Nextracker exported more than 20,000 tons of Saudi steel valued at more than SR112.5 million ($30 million) to help support the installation of the company’s NX Horizon and NX Gemini smart solar trackers at new solar plants in numerous countries, including the US.

It also used local steel manufacturers for all steel required to support the installation of Nextracker solar trackers and technology at the 405 MW Sakaka Solar Plant in Al Jouf, which was also developed by ACWA Power and consortium partners.

Nextracker, which is considered the leading company in the world in terms of solar power plants, has been steadily expanding its operations in many Arab countries such as the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt.

“We’ve been in business now nine years and we have achieved over 60 gigawatts of solar tracker projects around the world,” Garcia pointed out.

Although Nextracker was founded in 2013 only, it nevertheless focused on the Middle East region in 2016 and 2017 and managed to sign several contracts to build solar power plants in these countries.

“We will also deploy true capture software, which is an energy enhancing software that allows us to produce more energy. Eliminating row to row shading in the morning and afternoon, and also performing, producing more energy during diffuse light hours,” Garcia informed.

He was not able to comment on the actual cost of the two projects in Saudi Arabia.

The company’s executive stressed that the desert climate in some parts of the Middle Eastern countries allow the solar trackers to work perfectly well.

“So, when you have a desert landscape with light colored sand, the light bounces off, off the ground and hits the backside of the bi-facial modules and produces more energy,” Garcia added.

He also pointed out an important project that the company is doing in Dubai.

“We’ve already deployed the first third of that project. So about 350 megawatts that’s already deployed,” Garcia said.

He added that Europe, for example, is gradually trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas through investing in renewable energy but admitted that it’s difficult to estimate when full reliance on solar power in this continent can be achieved.”

“And I do believe that Europe, let’s say, significantly reduced its dependence on Russian natural gas. How quickly that can happen, remains to be seen. But it’s exciting for the solar power industry. We will have more opportunities to deploy renewable energy in Europe,” Garcia said.


Kuwait Central Bank appoints Sahar Al-Rumaih as its first female deputy governor 

Kuwait Central Bank appoints Sahar Al-Rumaih as its first female deputy governor 
Updated 13 sec ago

Kuwait Central Bank appoints Sahar Al-Rumaih as its first female deputy governor 

Kuwait Central Bank appoints Sahar Al-Rumaih as its first female deputy governor 

RIYADH: The Central Bank of Kuwait has named Sahar Al-Rumaih as its deputy governor in a first-ever such appointment of a woman to this position in the Gulf state.

Al-Rumaih, who was the deputy CEO for corporate banking at Ahli Bank of Kuwait, replaced Yousef Al-Obaid as his term had expired, according to Bloomberg. 

With this new appointment, the central bank’s board now includes two women. 

This comes following a similar development in Saudi Arabia in June when the Kingdom’s Central Bank named Sheila Al-Rowaily, who worked as a financier with Saudi Aramco, as its first woman board of directors. 

In recent years, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has focused on women’s empowerment and workforce, with efforts directed towards increasing female employment in diplomatic and governmental services. 

Women joining the workforce in Saudi Arabia has been a key development of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 social and economic reforms, which has seen their participation jump from 19 percent in 2016 to 33 percent last year.


Saudi riyal unflinching while Fed hike harms major global currencies

Saudi riyal unflinching while Fed hike harms major global currencies
Updated 13 min 16 sec ago

Saudi riyal unflinching while Fed hike harms major global currencies

Saudi riyal unflinching while Fed hike harms major global currencies

RIYADH: The US Federal Reserve’s most aggressive interest hikes since the 1980s have pulled several currencies across the world to new lows, while the Saudi riyal seems unflinching.

The Kingdom’s currency has dipped just 0.2 percent against the US dollar compared to the same date last year, in contrast to other markets.

On Sept. 21, the US Federal Reserve hiked the short-term interest rates by 75 basis points to 3 to 3.25 percent.

Since the announcement, several investors took their money out of other markets to invest in the US, thus pulling global financial markets to a state of volatility.

The Chinese onshore yuan is sliding toward 7.2 per dollar, down 10.9 percent from the same date last year, while the People’s Bank of China is setting up defenses to protect the currency, according to Reuters data.

On Sept. 26, the Indian rupee plunged 8.7 percent year-to-date to an all-time low of 81.67 against the US dollar.

Soon after the Fed hike, the British pound started falling, and it reached an all-time low on Sept. 26 before showing signs of recovery. The fall of the British pound is also due to the tax cuts announced by the new Liz Truss government.

At one point on Monday, the pound sank as low as $1.0327, surpassing the previous record low reached in 1985, before recovering some of its value. 

The Pakistan rupee also nosedived following the Fed hike, with one US dollar now equal to 233.79 Pakistani rupees.

Other major currencies like the Egyptian pound and the Australian dollar fell 19.5 percent and 11.1 percent year-to-date respectively.

Meanwhile, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Tuesday the Federal Reserve will need to raise interest rates to a range between 4.50 percent and 4.75 percent.


Riyad REIT Fund invests $17m in private real estate fund

Riyad REIT Fund invests $17m in private real estate fund
Updated 25 min 50 sec ago

Riyad REIT Fund invests $17m in private real estate fund

Riyad REIT Fund invests $17m in private real estate fund

RIYADH: Riyad REIT Fund has invested SR62 million ($17 million) in a private closed-end real estate fund that is income-generating and Shariah-compliant, according to a bourse filing.

The private fund, which is managed by Riyad Capital, seeks to achieve stable current income and long-term capital growth by investing in top-tier institutional real estate assets located in prime Saudi Arabian locations.

The private real estate fund has a target size of SR3 billion, and the initial closing amount is SR315 million.

The fund has a term of 20 years that can be extended for an additional five years.

The investment will generate 8.5 percent per year in return over a five-year period if it is invested semi-annually, it added.


Zain KSA integrates latest Huawei 5G technology into its network 

Zain KSA integrates latest Huawei 5G technology into its network 
Updated 44 min 45 sec ago

Zain KSA integrates latest Huawei 5G technology into its network 

Zain KSA integrates latest Huawei 5G technology into its network 

RIYADH: Mobile telecom operator Zain KSA has collaborated with Chinese mobile technology firm Huawei to integrate the third generation of 5G solutions into its network across the Kingdom. 

This new RAN product MetaAAU technology integration will enable Zain KSA to offer a wide range of services to its customers through expanding coverage and capacity and increasing the network speed.

As MetaAAU uses extremely large antenna array architecture, multi-channel technology, and innovative algorithms, Huawei's most advanced products are able to offer double the scale of arrays compared with the previous-generation AAU.

This solution can improve network performance while slashing energy consumption, the company said in a press release. 

This comes as Zain KSA looks to support more 5G use cases, including cloud computing, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions while continuing to deliver better user experiences. 

“This new upgrade to our 5G network serves our strategic goal to deliver world-class 5G experiences that match up to Saudi Vision 2030’s goals of transforming the Kingdom into a digital economy hub powered by Industry 4.0 and supporting a high quality of life for its communities,” Chief Technology Officer at Zain KSA, Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda said. 

He added: “Building on our elaborate 5G infrastructure, we launched the 5G carrier aggregation feature in 2020, achieving ultra-fast Internet speeds of 2.4 Gbps.” 

Now with the accelerating industry ecosystem development, and as more and more 5G smartphones support this feature, Al-Mufadda said they are extending the population coverage of 5G dual carriers and bringing the ultra-fast user experience to more customers.

President of Huawei 5G Product Line, Ritchie Peng said, “We will continue to provide innovative solutions to help Zain KSA to build the leading performance network and provide a better user experience to end users.”


SAPTCO wins $23m bus transportation project with Taif Municipality

SAPTCO wins $23m bus transportation project with Taif Municipality
Updated 48 min 7 sec ago

SAPTCO wins $23m bus transportation project with Taif Municipality

SAPTCO wins $23m bus transportation project with Taif Municipality

RIYADH: The Saudi Public Transport Co. has been awarded an SR88 million ($23 million) bus project with Taif Municipality.

The five-year project will have a positive impact on the company's revenues during the first half of 2023, it said in a bourse filing.

Founded in 1979, SAPTCO operates urban buses in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Mecca; intercity buses; and international buses to the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Bahrain.