Saudi Arabia inaugurated its first utility-scale renewables plant and announced another claiming record-low-cost $10/MWh solar power, in new milestones for the energy transition plans of the oil-rich kingdom.

The start of operations at the 300MW Sakaka PV plant, built at a cost of 1.2bn Saudi riyals ($320m) in the nation’s Al-Jouf region, marked a “pivotal moment” for Saudi Arabia’s renewables plans, said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as he announced power deals for a further seven PV projects that will add a further 3.6GW to its fleet.

“Some of these projects have set new world records for the lowest cost of solar-produced electricity.

“The Shuaibah project's cost of electricity is 1.04 US cents per kWh. More renewable energy projects will follow across the Kingdom, which we will announce when the time comes,” said the Crown Prince, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The 600MW Shuaibah project also includes ACWA Power in its investor consortium, according to the news agency.

If confirmed, the headline cost of power at a shade over $10/MWh would undercut other global pacesetters such as the Al Dhafra solar facility in UAE that won a bid there at $13.50/MWh and a 10MW array in Portugal ($13.16/MWh), although comparisons between power prices is notoriously difficult given factors such as extent of subsidy support and the inclusion or exclusion of grid connection costs.

Qatar’s 800MW Al Kharsaah project is due to begin producing power at $15.67/MWh in Q2 of this year, the cheapest renewable electricity to actually begin flowing.

Saudi Arabia is also building the 400MW Dumat al-Jandal project as its first utility-scale wind farm via a consortium of EDF and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar. The Crown Prince said that project will be complete “soon”.

Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman earlier this year said the kingdom – the world’s largest oil exporter – wants to be “another Germany when it comes to renewables” and derive 50% of its electricity from green power sources by 2030.

The kingdom’s previous plans for large-scale wind and solar deployment have made slow progress, but its latest initiatives include massive deployments to supply the Neom mega-city, and big ambitions in green hydrogen production.

The executive leading the energy plans for Neom told Recharge in an interview earlier this year that he expects power costs of $10/MWh for solar and $15/MWh for wind in the kingdom.