Could Saudi really be losing its taste for the black stuff?
Saudi Arabia is pursuing a renewable energy program, with the aim of cutting down on the oil it burns in power stations, a published roadmap of the kingdom’s plans stated this week.
The roadmap highlights plans to install 23.9 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity by 2020 and 54.1 GW by 2032, it said in the roadmap, which would make Saudi Arabia one of the world's main producers of renewable electricity.
In 2011 global installed capacity for photovoltaic (PV) solar power, the most common solar technology, was 69.4 GW, the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012 said.
The kingdom says it has crude output capacity of 12.5 million barrels a day, but domestic oil consumption is rising quickly and may start to cut into the amount of energy available for export.
The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), the government department responsible for the program, last year published its vision for a long-term energy mix that relied on big contributions from solar and nuclear energy.
KACARE said in its roadmap, a white paper published on Wednesday, that it aims to issue a request for pre-qualification for the first renewable plants within two months, a final tender within three months and to award contracts within a year.
It said the initial contracts would be part of an "introductory" procurement round of 500-800 megawatts, but that it would launch two more tenders within three years for 7 GW of installed capacity. It said 5.1 GW would be installed in the first five years.
Saudi Arabia wants most of the new renewable energy capacity to come from two solar power technologies, but is also seeking to generate electricity from wind, geothermal and waste-to-energy projects.