Companies from France and Japan were among 51 firms shortlisted on Monday to bid for solar and wind energy projects in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.
Virtually all of the kingdom's domestic power currently comes from crude, refined oil or natural gas.
But as part of an economic reform plan to wean the kingdom off oil, the government has set a target of 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023.
It invited local and international firms to try to qualify for bidding on two projects, a 300 MW solar facility, and a 400 MW wind power development.
The energy ministry said it received 128 applications, from which it chose 27 firms to bid on the sun power project and 24 for the wind farm.
Most were foreign companies, including EDF Energies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of the French public energy company, along with Marubeni Corp and Mitsui & Co of Japan.
Other qualifiers came from Canada, South Korea and elsewhere, while Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power also met the "clear set of criteria that ensures bidders are both experienced and capable of delivering utility scale renewable energy projects", a ministry statement said.
The market's response shows "confidence in our vast renewable energy potential and investment environment", Khaled al-Falih, the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources, said in the statement.
Qualified firms have until July to present their formal proposals, the ministry has said.For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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