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The New Arab

Saudi Arabia's ambitious vision for jobs and solar power

Saudi Arabia is looking to wean off its economy's dependence on crude [AFP illustrative image]

Date of publication: 26 April, 2017

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Saudi Arabia has made it very clear that renewable energy is an important part of its Vision 2030 plan to diversify its economy.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to create 7,000 new jobs through its solar-power programme as part of plans to move its economy away from a dependence on crude.

The kingdom's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is looking for backers to build solar and wind plants to produce around 3.45 gigawatts of power by 2020, Turki al-Shehri, the head of the country's renewable energy development office told Bloomberg.

"We want to create value," Shehri said at Tuesday's Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York.

"We don't just want to bring in companies that open up manufacturing facilities at a very high premium, which the consumer will end up paying. We want to ensure that whatever they are opening is competitive, that it can compete globally for exports."

Shehri's remarks may indicate the seriousness with which Riyadh is approaching its ambitious renewable energy programme.

On Monday, energy minister Khaled al-Falih said the kingdom aims to draw 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources within a matter of years.

Falih added that the programme aims to make Saudi Arabia an exporter of renewable energy and its related technology.

The renewable energy programme suffered some delays earlier this year, however Shehri says that plans are back on track with the programme now having its own dedicated office.

"What's different now is the fact that they have established this office," he said. "It's testimony to the fact that we're serious. These tenders have years of pre-development work. Putting out a tender is easy. Putting out a good tender requires work".

Saudi Arabia is currently trying to keep up with increasing domestic demand for energy while also easing off its reliance on oil as a source of revenue.

Government estimates say Saudi peak energy demand is expected to exceed 120 gigawatts by 2032. The new wind and solar energy projects will cost between $30 billion and $50 billion, Falih said on Monday.

At the top of Riyadh's economic priorities is boosting employment, which recently led to banning foreigners from taking certain job positions.

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