Saudi Arabia is kicking off its $50 billion renewable-energy push as the world’s top crude exporter turns to solar and wind power to temper domestic oil use in meeting growing energy demand.
Bidders seeking to qualify to build 700 megawatts of wind and solar power plants should submit documents by March 20, and those selected will be announced by April 10, Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said Monday in an e-mailed statement. Qualified bidders will be able to present their offers for the projects starting on April 17 through July.
“This marks the starting point of a long and sustained program of renewable energy deployment in Saudi Arabia that will not only diversify our power mix but also catalyze economic development,” Khalid Al-Falih, the energy minister, said in the statement. The ministry’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office intends to set up “the most attractive, competitive and well executed government renewable energy investment programs in the world,” he said.
Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco are developing renewable energy to either curb their fuel imports or conserve more valuable oil that could otherwise be exported. Saudi Arabia plans to develop almost 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023, requiring investment of $30 billion to $50 billion, Al-Falih said last month in Abu Dhabi.
Read more: Saudis warm to solar to help support oil exports
Building more solar, wind and nuclear power plants is part of a broader plan that the kingdom announced in April to diversify away from crude sales as the main source of government income.
The two projects in this round are a 300-megawatt solar facility at Sakaka in the country’s northern Al Jouf province and a 400-megawatt wind plant at Midyan in northwestern Tabuk province, according to the statement.