‘Solar energy crucial to meet rising demand in Saudi Arabia'
An expert here believes that the Kingdom is likely to spend all its oil on electricity in the country by 2031 if current consumption continues, and has called for an urgent program to harness solar energy.
“There must be real work done to benefit from this alternative energy in the Kingdom in light of climat changes, population growth and increasing electricity use,” said Abdel Malik Al-Junaidi, chairman of the mechanical engineering department at King Abdul Aziz University.
He said Saudi Arabia has a “real wealth” of alternative energy but has not exploited it. He said Saudi Arabia could become a leading exporter of solar power.
The Kingdom has this potential because it is located close to the equator, its skies are cloud-free and because the sun's rays fall vertically onto the country.
“Solar energy generation can be 1,000 watts for every square meter which requires stations to transfer this solar energy to electrical energy. (This is important) especially since Saudi Arabia by 2031 will need to use all its oil for electricity production.” Al-Junaidi said that Saudi Arabia has "the highest consumption of electricity in the world.” He said Saudi Arabia has become dependent on oil for its electricity because of the low production costs involved. In contrast, there is a fivefold increase in costs for solar power stations. However, the cost will be much less over the long term, beating traditional sources.
He said there was too much electricity consumption in the Kingdom, with the Saudi Electricity Company producing 50GW. In comparison, dams only produce 2GW. There are 25 dams used for electricity generation in the Kingdom.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which published its report on climate change recently, temperatures in the Middle East are rising between one and four degrees Celsius annually.