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Saudi to build solar energy farms

Efforts are being made to establish solar energy farms in different parts of the Kingdom with the support of the European Union, local press reports said on Friday.

Germany’s Siemens Company will transport the energy using advanced electrical cables, the reports said.

Informed sources close to the project said it would be carried out within the next three years. “Studies have proved that Saudi Arabia could become the largest exporter of solar energy in the world,” one source said.

“Saudi Arabia has a duty to join other countries in the effort to produce clean and green energy like solar energy in order to reduce carbon emissions that harm the environment,” said Khaled Al-Nabulsi of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.

He said the government should support the production of solar energy, adding that the Shoura Council and the Cabinet must issue laws to regulate production and supply of solar energy.

Studies have shown that Saudi Arabia could earn more revenue from solar energy than oil. This is because the country has the capability to produce large amounts of solar energy due to a large expanse of open area exposed to the sun.

Saudi Arabia has begun work on the first solar-powered water desalination plant as the first step of the development of the solar energy sector in the country.

Saudi Arabia has sunshine in abundance throughout the whole year. According to official data the sun emits about 7,000 watts of energy per square meter in Saudi Arabia over an average of 12 hours. This means that the potential for solar energy in Saudi Arabia is huge, and the Kingdom has enough money to start financing domestic solar energy projects.

The King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST) recently launched a major national initiative to produce desalinated water and electricity at a much cheaper rate — less than a riyal for a cubic meter of water and 30 halalas per kilowatt/hour.

Prince Turki bin Saud bin Muhammad, vice president of KACST for research institutes, said the initiative would reduce the cost of water and electricity production by 40 percent. He said the first solar-powered desalination plant with a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters a day would be established in Al-Khafji, to serve 100,000 people. The project will reduce dependence on oil and gas to operate desalination plants. At present, desalination plants on the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf consume a total of 1.5 million barrels per day.

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