When the country with the largest oil reserves in the world decides to start investing in renewable energy, it may well be a sign that the age of big oil is coming to an end. While the US is still focused on fossil fuels – whether drilling, importing, or otherwise – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has realized that relying on a finite energy resource is not the smartest move, and it has begun to implement more solar systems into its electrical grid instead of older diesel generators.
Don’t starting labelling Saudi Arabia as the green savior just yet. In order to reduce their reliance on imported diesel, they are also making big investments in petroleum refineries. At the heart of Saudi Arabia’s solar boom is the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA), whose goal is to make the Kingdom “one of the most energy advantaged countries in the world.”
Related: World’s Largest Solar Thermal Plant Opens in Saudi Arabia
This trend is actually spreading all over the Midde East with companies like Israel’s Arava Power also aiming to reduce or eliminate the use of diesel generators in the city of Haifa. The company seeks not only to increase the amount of solar tech in Israel, but to also export the technology to other markets like South Africa.
However back in Saudi Arabia, the need for solar energy is growing. According to SASIA, almost 25 percent of the Saudi grid is powered by diesel and the Kingdom spends over $1 billion on imported diesel. Not only that, but these generators are located in remote regions so added costs are incurred transporting fuel around the country.
Related: Construction to Begin on Saudi Arabia’s First Solar Farm Next Year, Part of $109 Billion Investment
In doesn’t take much to realize that the solar potential for a country like Saudi Arabia is massive. Speaking to Clean Technica, SunEdison founder Jigar Shah said: “Saudi Arabia could easily be one of the largest solar markets in the world. The economics are clear, a pilot program has been completed, and deep policy research has been done.”
Here’s hoping it all comes to fruition.