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Saudi solar sector "a must", says SEC executive

Development vital to maintain living standards in the Kingdom.

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SAUDI, Sec, Solar, News

Saudi Arabia has little choice but to pursue the potential of solar power if it hopes to maintain the country’s standard of living, the executive director of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has said.

The Kingdom must learn to wean itself off its dependence on oil and gas for electricity production, Hamed al-Saggaf, told delegates at the fourth Solar Arabia summit in Riyadh, according to a report in PV Insider.

"If we continue to consume fuel at the same rate, then there will be a great lost opportunity," Saggaf said. "We have to start pursuing solar now."

Saggaf's plan is to develop solar power capacity in Saudi Arabia's remote north and northeast areas where diesel power generation is king.

"The gateway for solar is these isolated areas," he said. "The cost of transporting the diesel is much higher than the subsidized cost of the diesel itself."

SEC plans to invest $109 bn in solar energy between now and 2032 as it eyes a solar power capacity of 41 GW – a figure that would meet 30% of the Kingdom’s projected 120 GW energy needs by that date.

The 2032 goal of 41 GW of solar energy will be driven predominately by concentrated solar power (CSP), but at least 16 GW of that capacity will be derived from PV sources.

IHS expects approximately 1.5 GW of solar PV capacity to be deployed in Saudi Arabia by 2017.

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