Oil Kingdom Becoming Solar Powerhouse

Saudi Arabia: Oil Kingdom Becoming Solar Powerhouse

“I believe solar will be even more economic than fossil fuels.”

That’s probably a quote from the head of some environmental group, right?

Nope! It’s a quote from Ali Al-Naimi, the Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Yes, Saudi Arabia, a kingdom rich in oil, is planning to transform itself into a major producer of solar energy.

Out-of-Control Energy Demand

This seems like quite an odd shift for a country that makes so much money off oil. But, the Saudis have a problem.

You see, a quarter of all of Saudi Arabia’s oil output is burned domestically. Electricity is a particularly sore point. The country currently burns as much as one million barrels of oil per day just to generate electricity for its rapidly growing economy. That’s about 15% of its exports! And that usage is only set to grow if the Saudis don’t change course.

One of the issues is that the country’s power plants and other infrastructure are old and inefficient. Its air conditioners are also wasteful and account for about 70% of the country’s total electricity usage.

Plus, the Saudis subsidize electricity to their own citizens, selling it for as little as $0.01 per kilowatt-hour.

In the long term, the royal family is concerned that electricity consumption is the beast that will swallow up all of their oil production – consumption rises 10% to 11% annually. This growth in electricity consumption has made Saudi Arabia the world’s sixth-biggest consumer of oil, despite having a population of only 30 million people.

Saudi fears were backed up by a 2012 report from Citigroup. The study said that if domestic demand for oil continued at its current pace, Saudi Arabia could be a net oil importer by as soon as 2030!

It’s tough to remain the global oil kingpin when most of your oil is being burned domestically and sold to electric companies for a mere $4 per barrel.

Thus, the Saudis’ turn toward renewable power isn’t really that surprising.

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Faruk Baibakov 4 years ago Member's comment

did they get Allah's blessing for it? In what form I wonder?

Energy Concerned 4 years ago Member's comment

No country has one source of energy in its energy diet! The reason why Saudi Arabia burns so much crude is the lack of having energy department. Solar is part of the energy game and alone will not solve the issue. Similarly, neuclear as Saudi Arabia try's to move in with Russia's help! Renewables are all going to be part of energy policy if there is some entity to set up things right rather than Oil Minestry which after all is moving towards Solar! Solar is not going to function in dusty environment compared to other environment! Concern is that after realizing that energy compass was not set write it leads to another wrong direction! It will consume more resources to produce power uneconomically.

Power prices are part of the issue and raising it for low income majority of citizens might lead to huge social unrests which the government does not want and not in this time with the events in the area!

Power infrastructure is another big issue as it was set up as simple cycle power plants with low efficiency since fuel prices are set low! Cheep BTUs does not justify efficient power systems! This is all because of relating incremental BTUs are costing only incremental variable cost in an over built oil production system which oil minister is finding that it is the wrong north and want to change the course to Solar!!! He is the now acting as the energy minister! If he believes that Saudi Arabia with vast oil reserve is capable of meeting crude demand locally and internationally then his old planning which led to the current elevated level of crude burning is correct why change now?

Daniel Marcellini 4 years ago Member's comment

Saudi may also want to consider Geo Thermal power as well.

George Despotov 4 years ago Member's comment


Anthony Chibuzor 4 years ago Member's comment

We should also start doing the same in Nigeria.

Muhammad Waseem Sajjad Khan 4 years ago Member's comment

yes no dought solar pawer solution to get electricity hrough solar energy.but installationof solar plant need lot of land to get a only 100mega watt,assessories,pannels,batterries,converters solar pannels,and experts and after instalation problem of wear tears you will be bounded these in every years, thanks waseem

Suleyman 4 years ago Member's comment

Petrol ülkeleri solar enerjiye biz doğal gaza yatırım yapıyoruz

Nasarullah Muhammad 4 years ago Member's comment

Sara tail to Phudian marnay pay laga diya, Ab Solar energy say kam chalana paray ga

Sher Mitha 4 years ago Member's comment

Excellent, an eye opener for careless, spoiled and irresponsible citizens of Saudi kingdom. They must realize, nothing lasts for ever. Early wake up call is better than to be a loser.

Pasupathy Kumar 4 years ago Member's comment

I remember even in 2000 Gulf was organising semnar on NON OIL ECONOMY, moreover they are accepting the new technoly with broad smile, like any new car, mobile and now it is solar turn