Saudi Arabia is planning to invest $109 billion into solar energy, looking to develop a solar industry that can provide 1/3 of its electricity by 2032.
Doing so will free up larger quantities of its reserves for international sales rather than for use domestically. With the price of oil expected to rise significantly in the coming decades, such a move makes sense from an economic standpoint.
Saudi Arabia’s first solar farm is expected to begin operations by 2015, and its first nuclear plant by 2020, according to an official at the agency developing the country’s renewable (and atomic) energy program.
Its first solar power plant is expected to begin construction in early 2013, and will take up to 2 years to complete.
Khalid Al-Suliman, vice president at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said that “the project will get underway once the government approves his agency’s plan for renewable energy.” He’s expecting to officially receive approval by early 2013.
He says that they are currently targeting around “41,000 megawatts of solar capacity within two decades,” 16,000 megawatt of which would be from photovoltaic panels, and the other 25,000 from solar thermal technology. The country currently has only around 3 megawatts of solar installations.
It is also still moving forward with its plan to build sixteen nuclear reactors by the year 2030, for a total nuclear capacity of 14,000 megawatts, which is projected to cost the country around $100 billion.
With how competetively priced the solar power is compared to nuclear, it kind of makes you wonder if they have any ulterior interests in nuclear.