VIDEO: Saudi Arabia’s Solar Industry Is Heating Up

Dr. Nabih Cherradi, CTO of Desert Technologies, talks to Melissa Hancock about the vast commercial potential of the solar energy industry in the Middle East

Dr. Nabih Cherradi, CTO of Desert Technologies, talks to Melissa Hancock about the vast commercial potential of the solar energy industry in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia-headquartered Desert Technologies launched a 100MW factory in January this year, making it the largest privately owned solar photovoltaic (PV) module facility in the Middle East today.

It produces more than 8MW of modules per month at full capacity and is the firm’s first step in an ambitious, multi-year expansion plan aiming to achieve 1,500MW in capacity across the value chain by 2023.

Saudi Arabia is now launching huge projects because they’ve understood that going solar is not an option anymore – it’s a necessity,” Dr. Nabih Cherradi, chief technology officer, Desert Technologies, told Impact4All in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Intersolar Europe conference in Munich, Germany.

“Saudi Arabia is now launching huge projects because they’ve understood that going solar is not an option anymore – it’s a necessity.”

Dr. Cherradi added: “They have created different funds to support the industry such as the Saudi Industrial Development Fund. Now they are fine-tuning their requirements to help set up the industry, for example, in providing finance and developing other arms to help the industry move ahead.”

Desert Technologies’ factory was supported with a loan from the Saudi Industrial Development Fund and its launch coincided with the announcement of 3.2 GW of new solar PV capacity to be procured in Saudi Arabia during 2018.

The Saudi government is making a big push to develop the solar PV industry in line with its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil.

The Saudi government is making a big push to develop the solar PV industry in line with its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil.

“At the same time, there is another programme that was initiated under the patronage of the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources called The National Companies Promotion Program where they select from among 500 Saudi companies which they want to support and our company was selected as one of them,” said Dr. Cherradi. “The key point for Saudi Arabia is not only to develop our capacity…..but also to develop the industry.”

In March 2018, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, signed an MOU with Masayoshi Son, the founder of Japanese investment giant SoftBank, to invest $200bn in establishing the world’s largest solar PV energy project in the kingdom by 2030. Comprising a series of solar parks with a generation capacity of 200 gigawatts, it will be large enough to power 150 million homes.

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2 comments

  • Rich

    July 18, 2018 at 11:45 am

    It is a pity that these ambitious projects have a catch. Saudi Arabia is one of the most dusty countries in the world and the yield losses from solar energy will be huge. To avoid this, a Miraah solar power plant with more than 1 GW is currently being built in Oman. The Omani people have already recognized the problems involved in building a solar power plant in the desert. Even if this power plant only generates steam for the EOR, the financial benefits are huge.
    Another possibility to increase the yield from solar energy generation in the desert could be offered by this technology: http://www.desert.solar

    Reply

  • Russell

    July 20, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Interesting perspective of solar development in Saudi; SoftBank bought ARM a couple of years ago, now the focus being on Smart Grids to manage small wire distribution more effectively. Looks likely that we’ll see the benefit of a strong energy mix and smart grid delivery that will help to meet emissions targets of Kyoto agreement globally.

    Reply

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