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1,200 sites to be surveyed for Saudi solar and wind power drive

The survey aims to find the best sites for solar and wind power sites inn Saudi Arabia Alamy via Reuters
The survey aims to find the best sites for solar and wind power sites in Saudi Arabia
  • Largest survey of its kind in world
  • Information available for a fee
  • Will help companies find suitable sites

A survey involving 1,200 sites to find the best places for future solar and wind power projects has been launched in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom tries to meet its clean energy targets.   

Energy minister Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, who has signed contracts for Saudi companies to conduct the survey, said it was the largest of its kind in the world. 

The minister first mentioned plans to evaluate the sites in December. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and supports a gradual phasing out of fossil fuel exports to allow poorer countries around the world to adjust to a green energy economy. 

The solar stations will record factors including not just the irradiance, or energy received from the sun, but dust and pollutant deposition rates, ambient temperature, rainfall, humidity and atmospheric pressure, the official Saudi Press Agency (Spa) said.

The wind stations will record speed and direction, ambient temperature, atmospheric pressure, and relative humidity at different heights. 

The information will be regularly updated. It will be made available for a fee, and will help companies choose the location of land lots for renewable energy projects. 

“This eliminates the current waiting period of 18 to 24 months to obtain data,” the Spa said, quoting the minister. 

Abdulaziz bin Salman said the solar and wind power survey would help Saudi Arabia reach twin targets of 50 percent of energy coming from renewable sources  by 2030, and reducing the use of liquid fuel in electricity generation.

“The kingdom will tender new renewable energy projects with a capacity of 20 gigawatts annually, aiming to reach between 100 and 130 gigawatts by 2030, depending on electricity demand growth,” he said. One gigawatt provides power for approximately 750,000 homes.

The International Renewable Energy Agency says regional renewable energy capacity as a whole was  just over 35 GW in 2023, which is less than 1 percent of global renewable energy capacity. Only the Central America and Caribbean region has a smaller share. 

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