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Solar state of mind
In a region with thousands of hours of sunshine a year, the solar energy industry is in its infancy. Can Saudi Arabia lead the way in harnessing a new source of energy?
February 11, 2010 10:36 by Sarah Abdullah
When asked the approximate cost of a kilowatt of electricity produced by his company, Allegue said that because of their partnerships in Saudi Arabia they are able to operate with the most competitive prices in photovoltaic solutions: 25 cents to 33 cents per kilowatt.
So how soon could solar power be used in the home? According to Allegue, a group of governmental stakeholders are working to implement a subsidy scheme related to solar energy, a carbon dioxide emission saving credit and a comprehensive grid tariff all of which will determine the speed of development of solar rooftops. These are the building blocks needed to make domestic use possible.
“Some institutes such as the Middle East Center for Sustainable Development are encouraging so-called green building construction, and accrediting certifications if a enough of the used energy produced is from solar panels,” he said.
“The feasibility model of solar energy in the kingdom is unique, and not comparable to any other country. Indeed, the low electricity price generated from fossil fuels solutions, and the lack of solar subsidies makes it even more challenging. But I believe that to tackle the Saudi market, securing the appropriate technology adapted to the kingdom’s harsh environment is necessary, but not sufficient.”
A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm, has said that it expects solar power to become cost-competitive in the form of concentrated solar power over the course of the next 12 months, as prices of fossil fuels such as oil and gas continue to increase. Some analysts are predicting that costs will rise to more than $100 a barrel.
And with solar technology costs decreasing because of productivity improvements, the company says it believes that the cost-benefit of solar energy will lead to a boom on a global scale. If this happens, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the region, will need to be positioned to take advantage.