A senior Saudi strategist is calling for the country to suspend new fossil-fuelled power plants and rely solely on solar plus storage to meet its growing need for electricity.
“We should actually put a hiatus on power plants using fossil fuels and look only for solar as the future for energy in Saudi Arabia,” said Dr. Ibrahim Babelli, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of economy and planning, a former chief strategist for the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.
“Saudi Arabia has lagged behind other Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries on renewable energy deployment, but the Kingdom’s new Vision 2030 Plan sets a target of 9.5 GW renewables by 2023 alongside the rollout of large-scale industrialization projects,” CSP Today reports. Babelli told a MENA solar conference last week the country’s need for baseload power to drive industrial growth should come from photovoltaics, and concentrating solar power (CSP) with storage.
“The advantage that comes with CSP should be a no-brainer for Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that solar can cover the country’s seasonal demand peaks at less cost than large-scale nuclear generation.
Babelli “urged international solar consultants and developers to shape their business plans around Saudi Arabia’s power demand profiles and avoid assumptions based on other solar markets, such as Germany,” CSP Today notes. He cited consultants’ “one model fits all” approach as “the fundamental reason why nothing moved in Saudi Arabia for six years.”