Saudi 'set for 1GW solar round'

Saudi Arabia is set to introduce far-reaching organisational reforms to support solar power projects, paving the way for the launch of a 1GW tender by the end of 2014, said a local industry body.

Vahid Fotuhi, president of the Middle East Solar Industry Association (Mesia), says Saudi is on the verge of some major new solar developments.

Although progress has been slow up until now, Fotuhi said the Kingdom is set to unveil plans to develop multiple solar energy projects.

“What will become very evident in the weeks and months ahead is that it will no longer be just the King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy (KA CARE) running the show,” Fotuhi told the Menasol 2014 conference in Dubai.

“There are other new organisations emerging which will also play a role in the implementation of solar in the Kingdom,” he adds.

Saudi Arabia has already announced plans to invest more than $109bn into solar projects with the aim of producing 41GW – or almost 30% of its energy requirements – from solar by 2032.

KA CARE, which has until now run the Kingdom’s solar programme, has previously indicated that tenders were set to begin – although critics have pointed out that neither the policy or funding frameworks needed to attract solar companies were in place.

However, it is understood that the Saudis are now in the final stages of screening technical advisors to help them put together the commercial contracts and train local people how to run the projects.

A number of global PV powerhouses, on both the manufacturing and development side, have expressed interest in the Saudi market.

Saudi Arabia is expected to be the largest solar market in the Middle East and Africa by 2017, overtaking South Africa and Israel, according to some analysts.