Gulf Council Countries renewable energy targets have been reported to have the potential of creating an average of 140,000 direct jobs per year. The report which was published last year by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on renewable energy market analysis in the Gulf Council Countries (GCC) region sees an appreciable growth of renewable energy in the region and also declares Saudi Arabia as the world’s seventh largest oil consumer and the world’s largest oil exporter, thus making it an oil dependent economy. However, the country has declared plan to diversify its economy by depending on more green technology and sustainable sources.
During the just ended World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia announced plans to launch a new renewable energy programme which is designed to invest about 30 to 50 billion USD over the next 15 years. The announcement made by Khalid Al-Falih, the minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Recourses, relates directly to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 which was launched last in 2015. The Vision 2030 was developed to help the country diversify and build its economy to be robust even in the absence of oil and also to move the country towards a more sustainable future.
As the new programme is set to be accomplished by 2032, two years after the Vision 2030 is also expected to achieve, there are many activities the country is looking at to make all these targets possible. The Vision 2030 clearly states the importance of localizing renewable energy by the manufacturing and industrial sector. The new program will start the first round of bidding for projects which would produce 10GW of power while working with other countries including Yemen, and Egypt to facilitate and expedite the process of going renewable. The minister also highlighted that Saudi Arabia has plans to connect with Africa to exchange non-fossil sources of energy. More to it, Saudi Arabia is in the process of nuclear investment as the country studies the first two commercial nuclear reactors with a total of 2.8GW. However, nuclear energy has not been in the good books of many climate activists as nuclear waste poses a huge threat to the planet. As the argument exist whether nuclear is reliable or not, Saudi Arabia is committed to develop its economy and also maintain a good environmental position as the country still remains on top with regards to per capita greenhouse gas CO2 emissions.
The country will still have hydrocarbons as a prime element in the energy mix in 2032, by an estimation of 60GW. Nuclear energy will then be providing 17.6GW, while solar generates 41GW. The 41GW will be made of 16GW being generated through the use of photovoltaic cells while 25GW will be generated by concentrated solar power. Wind will contribute 9GW, waste-to-energy 3GW, and geothermal 1GW, according to King Abdullah Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE).