Saudi Arabia unveils largest solar power project

Move is part of oil producer's push for more renewable energy sources - official.
Saudi Arabia unveils largest solar power project
SOLAR PLANS: The solar plant at KAUST.
By Andy Sambidge
Thu 20 May 2010 11:28 AM

Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer of the OPEC countries, has unveiled the largest solar power installation in the kingdom.

Conergy, the consortium of Hamburg-based solar experts and Saudi Arabia's National Solar Systems (NSS), on Thursday announced it has built the 2MW solar park on the roof top of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

The solar plant consists of two rooftop solar installations with a capacity of one megawatt each, installed on the north and south laboratories of the university.

The power system features premium components, combining over 9,300 high-efficiency solar modules, occupy 11,577 square metres of roof space and produces 3,332 megawatt hours of clean energy annually, while also saving up to 33,320 tons of carbon emissions, the company said in a statement.

This equates to carbon offsets of approximately 6,000 circumnavigations of the world by car, it added.

Abdulhadi Al-Mureeh, managing director of NSS, said: "For the first time, clean power is flowing into the national grid. This is a historical event for us in Saudi Arabia."

A KAUST spokesman added: "We are pioneers and develop new and sustainable technologies. We are proud to be among the solar pioneers in our country and to have the first and the largest solar park at KAUST.

"Despite our country being the largest oil-producer, we think that it is essential to develop new and sustainable technologies for the benefit of the kingdom, the region and the world."

Saudi Arabia, which has approximately one-fifth of the world's proven oil reserves, is planning to make solar power a major contributor to energy supply in the next 5 to 10 years, according to the kingdom's Minister for Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

"Saudi Arabia aspires to export as much solar energy in the future as it exports oil now," said Ali Al-Naimi, in a recent interview.

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