Archive for category Renewable Energies

Saudi Arabia Offers One of World’s Lowest Solar Energy Costs

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (SPX)

Aug 12, 2014

Solar power costs have fallen dramatically over the last five years, thanks to lower module prices, lower balance of system costs, and increased competition at the development and EPC level. Financing costs have also decreased as investors recognize the low-risk profile of solar assets. As a result, solar power is now cheaper than most alternative power sources.

“For systems with the right economies of scale – 10 MegaWatt (MW) and above – solar power can now be generated at between US$70 and US$100/MWh. That price is more than four times lower than in 2009,” says Thierry Lepercq, founder and president of France-based Solairedirect, a world leader in the development of large photovoltaic (PV) power plants with low levelized cost of energy (LCOE).

Within this price range, Saudi Arabia could offer some of the lowest LCOE levels, according to Lepercq, who will be speaking at the second edition of Desert Solar Saudi Arabia conference that will be held from 17-18 September. In particular, he will explore the business case for utility-scale solar plants.

Building on the success of the first Desert Solar conference held last year, the event is once again gathering distinguished stakeholders in the Saudi Arabian solar energy market, hosting more than 150 decision makers from across the industry.

The panel of speakers will include executives from Air Liquide MENA, E.ON, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), and Tokyo Electron Taiwan, as well as Skypower Fas Energy, Solairedirect and First Solar.

“Today in Saudi Arabia, it is possible to reach a solar LCOE of between US$70/MWh in the higher irradiation/elevation areas in the western part of the kingdom, and around US$90/MWh in the Gulf area,” reveals Lepercq.

With such competitive costs, the Saudi solar market has been growing steadily. Earlier this year, Solar Frontier completed the 1 MW CPV power plant at the Nofa Equestrian Resort, near Riyadh. And in the next few months, Saudi Aramco’s KAPSARC II project that will extend their existing solar plant from 3.5 MW to 5.3 MW should also come online.

“Recent developments in Saudi Arabia, such as the interest of local investors in financing PV projects and the growing amount of traction that EPC companies are gaining, are a clear indication of the Kingdom’s potential to evolve into a sustainable solar energy market,” said Dr. Raed Bkayrat, Vice President for Saudi Arabia at First Solar, a leading global solar energy solutions provider with over 9 gigawatts (GW) installed worldwide.

“With access to all the critical elements – low-cost finance, land availability, high solar irradiance and locally-based, skilled resources – there is no reason why Saudi Arabia cannot achieve some of the lowest PV levelized costs of electricity in the region,” highlights Dr. Bkayrat, who will be sharing insights on solar-powered desalination solutions for Saudi Arabia at the Desert Solar conference.

In addition, “the local PV manufacturing sector, already under development leveraging KSA’s excellent industrial infrastructure, with region-specific PV R and D initiatives at local institutions (i.e. KAUST, KACST), would provide a further boost not only to additional cost decrease but also to increased human capital development in the Saudi solar sector” according to Imtiaz Mahtab, a board member of the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA).

Further cost reductions can be expected as all cost factors continue to improve, down to US$50-US$70/MWh by 2020, according to Lepercq. By then, solar PV power would be by far the cheapest energy in the world.

The Desert Solar Conference is part of a week-long trade mission offering international solar executives and investors the opportunity to meet with a high-level delegation of Saudi solar stakeholders. The event will be held from 14-18 September, 2014 and is jointly organized in by international solar conference organizer Solarplaza and the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA).

Source: Solar Daily.


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Qatar embracing solar technology to reduce greenhouse emissions

Aiming to reduce both its greenhouse emissions and its use of hydrocarbons to generate power, Qatar is looking to embrace solar technology.

This could lead to the development of a local industry with the potential for exports in the longer term, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

On January 9 the international press reported that Qatar was looking to launch an initiative to support the development of alternative energy sources in the Gulf. The announcement was made by Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, the Minister of Economy and Energy, at an electricity conference in Doha. Al Sada said that Qatar would launch pilot schemes in the solar sector as part of a 200MW solar project announced last year.

The initial phase, which is due to be tendered in the coming months, will see small-scale plants generating 5MW-10MW each, installed on underutilized land. Last year the cost of this stage was estimated at $30m. Phase two will involve assessment of the initial sites, with a view to bringing in private investment to increase solar capacity.

Officials at the conference asserted the importance of boosting generation capacity in the Gulf, as well as broadening the energy mix and increasing the proportion of power generated by renewables.

Al Sada said that greater use of renewables could help reduce the use of natural gas to produce power. Qatar is one of the world’s leading gas exporters, and also has a growing petrochemicals industry and substantial desalination needs. Greater diversification of power sources would free more gas for these purposes. Currently, all the country’s electricity comes from oil- and gas-fired plants. Another reason for wishing to increase green energy output and reduce the use of hydrocarbons is environmental.

With these issues in mind, Qatar aims to generate 20% of its energy from renewables by 2024, and have 1800MW of installed green capacity by 2020. These are ambitious targets given the current generation mix, but not an unobtainable one, thanks to the financial resources at its disposal and its year-round sun, which makes it well suited for solar development.

While solar power is still a relatively expensive source – particularly compared to Qatar’s cheap and abundant gas – scientists are increasingly confident that technology will be developed over the coming years to make it more efficient and thus cost-effective.

One driving force behind renewables development in the state is Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a venture between the Qatar Foundation, a semi-private non-governmental organisation backed by the royal family; Germany’s SolarWorld; and the government-owned Qatar Development Bank.

In May 2012 QSTec secured financing for a $1bn polysilicon plant in Ras Laffan City, north of Doha. The factory will have initial annual production of 8000 tonnes of polysilicon and will produce enough for photovoltaic panels generating 6.5GW when at full capacity.

A number of international companies are also involved in research and development in the solar sector in Qatar. US energy giant Chevron, best known for its hydrocarbons activities, is investing $10m in the Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency (CSEE) at Qatar Science & Technology Park, with another $10m coming from local clean energy firm GreenGulf.

The CSEE was inaugurated in March 2011 and aims to develop solar technology that is suited to Qatar’s climate and the specific needs of its energy users. One of the issues that Chevron aims to address is building solar panels that can perform in the hot and dusty Gulf environment. With very little rain, panels can get clogged with sand and dust, and thus absorb less sunlight. According to Chevron, their effectiveness can be reduced by as much as 40% after six months. Photovoltaics also operate less effectively in high temperatures.

As well as working on technology for power plants, the CSEE is researching the potential of harnessing solar energy for uses such as desalination and air conditioning, as well as energy efficiency measures.

Other international firms investing in solar research in Qatar include General Electric, Shell and ConocoPhillips, while the Doha campus of Texas A&M University has a project working on using solar energy to break down natural gas into carbon and hydrogen for industrial uses.

Renewables are still in their early days in Qatar, and an important caveat is that solar power is still considerably less efficient and more expensive than the state’s abundant gas. However, the country has the financial resources to invest in solar research and development and has put itself at the cutting edge of technical advances in the industry. If development continues at this pace, Qatar could become a leader in solar technology. QSTec’s potential capacity could also leave scope for export, while the work being done at CSEE and Texas A&M should, if successful, be applicable elsewhere in the region, and the world.

Source: Global Arab Network.


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Showa Shell, Saudi Electricity start Saudi solar plant

Aug 8, 2011

ALKHOBAR: Japan’s Showa Shell Sekiyu KK and Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) have started a 500-kilowatt (kW) solar power plant in Saudi Arabia, an executive at the utility said.

The pilot plant, located on Farasan island, southwest Saudi Arabia, is expected to reach full capacity later this month, Amer Al-Swaha, head of Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects at SEC, said.

“250 kW is operational and the other half will start this month,” Al-Swaha said.

“The power load in the island is more than 25 megawatts (MW). This (project) is modest but it is only a start and we will evaluate it to see whether to expand.”

Saudi Arabia hopes to reduce its use of fossil fuels that it would rather export by building nuclear and renewable power plants.

The Farasan project should reduce diesel burning for power generation on the island.

“These projects need (government support), with the support we can expand,” Swaha added. “With the land we have we can expand the plant to 7 MW.”

Under the agreement, Showa Shell will own the project for up to 15 years, after which the assets will be transferred to SEC. Royal Dutch Shell owns one-third of Showa Shell, while Saudi Aramco holds about 15 percent.

In 2009, Aramco And Showa Shell signed an agreement to build small-scale pilot solar-power facilities in the Kingdom.

Source: Arab News.

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