Saudi power investment may hit $133bn in ten years

Saudi Arabia will need to invest over SAR500bn (US$133bn) over the next ten years to meet rapidly rising power demand, Saudi Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah al-Hussayen said late on Sunday.

The country with the biggest Arab economy and a population that has ballooned to over 27m faces sporadic power cuts in summer when demand for air conditioning surges.

"There is a need for projects over the next ten years with investments that exceed SAR500bn," Hussayen said at a water and power forum.

Power consumption rose by 9 percent in the first half of 2012 from last year's figure, he said, adding that peak demand in the summer was up 7 percent, or an increase of 3,500 megawatts.

In May, Saudi Arabia's deputy electricity minister revised up estimates for the amount of investment needed in power projects over the next decade to SAR400bn from SAR300bn.

Saudi Arabia plans to generate some electricity from solar and nuclear plants and is also considering wind, waste and geothermal energy sources as it seeks to reduce reliance on oil and gas.

How much of the kingdom's future energy mix will be met by each technology may be agreed in the first quarter of next year, Khalid al-Sulaiman, vice president for renewable energy at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told the forum.

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