Oil-rich Saudi Arabia officially joined the wind power era as its first turbine development began exporting some of the world’s cheapest renewable power to the grid.
The first Vestas 4.2MW turbines at the 400MW Dumat Al Jandal have started operations as the project – which will be the largest wind farm in the Middle East as well as Saudi Arabia’s first – nears completion, said co-developers EDF Renewables and Masdar.
The partners won the right to build the project in a 2018 tender after bidding to supply output for 20 years at the equivalent of around $21.30/MWh, making it some of the cheapest wind power globally to date.
Vestas built the wind farm as well as supplying the turbines under an EPC agreement.
Power production from Dumat Al Jandal marks another milestone for green energy in Saudi Arabia, whose huge wealth is built on its status as one of the planet’s largest fossil fuel suppliers.
Saudi Arabia in April inaugurated its first utility-scale renewables plant, a 300MW solar PV facility.
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 future power costs of $10/MWh for solar and $15/MWh for wind in the kingdom.