Big solar plans unveiled for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is well known for its plentiful supply of oil and for its reliance on the oil industry. It is also home to the Ghawar oilfield, the largest oilfield in the world, and has produced more oil than any other country.
Experts have suggested that our global energy requirements could be met with a solar site covering around 1% of the Sahara Desert. The solar power potential of this area is huge, covering an area from North Africa into the northern region of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is now looking towards the future and is making plans to rapidly increase its focus on the solar market. They recently announced an investment upwards of $7 billion into constructing seven solar fields and a wind farm this year.
Saudi Arabia is now planning to create the largest solar plant in the world. The Japanese conglomerate SoftBank confirmed an agreement with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to develop the proposed project. Costing in excess of $200 billion, the site would generate over 200 GW of solar energy as well as generating over 100,000 solar industry jobs. Developers, however, have said it is likely to take over ten years to complete the project.
The scale of this project becomes more clear by comparing the solar capacity of other nations. For example, the solar capacity in the US at the end of 2016 was 40 GW. The total solar installed worldwide at the end of 2016 was 300 GW. The proposed site in Saudi Arabia would dwarf the existing largest solar park in China by over 100 times.
This announcement is encouraging for the renewables industry and highlights the commitment of Saudi Arabia in moving away from their traditional reliance on fossil fuels and towards a cleaner energy future. It will also solidify the importance of Saudi Arabia as an important energy-producing nation for many years to come.
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