Saudi Arabia to expand solar capacity, says oil minister

Ali al-Naimi calls for greater cooperation between Europe and Middle East in developing Kingdom’s renewables potential

Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia (Pic: IISD/Flickr)

Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia (Pic: IISD/Flickr)

By Gerard Wynn

Saudi Arabia still intends a major investment in solar power, according to its oil minister Ali al-Naimi, despite falling so short on much hype to date.

Al-Naimi was speaking in Berlin on Wednesday, and spent most of his speech focusing on the Kingdom’s decision not to intervene in oil markets.

He said that the country’s goal was market stability, and expected demand and supply to return to balance, and oil prices to stabilise.

He reiterated the country’s expectation that it would be a major solar power producer in future, prompted perhaps by the venue for his speech, in Germany.

“Germany is a world leader in terms of solar, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of sun, and acreage,” he said.

“We intend to harness more and more of our domestic energy needs from solar power so there really is scope for greater cooperation.”

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The country’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy three years ago said that the Kingdom could get a third of its power, equivalent to more than 40,000 megawatts (MW), from solar power by 2032.

In January this year, the world’s top oil exporter pushed that outlook back to 2040.

As of the end of 2013, Saudi Arabia had installed just 25 MW of solar power, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, compared with more than 35,000 MW in Germany.

The attract private sector investment in solar power, Saudi Arabia would probably have to overhaul the country’s oil and power market subsidies, worth more than $60 billion in 2013, according to the International Energy Agency.

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