x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Saudi mulls exporting power to Europe as electricity spending surges

Breaking News: Saudi Arabia is gearing up for a major investment drive in the electricity sector that could see the kingdom export power to Europe.

Saudi Arabia needs to spend more than 300 billion Saudi riyals on power plants in the next decade to meet demand, said the chairman of the kingdom's electricity company.

The government is looking to the private sector to contribute much of that investment, according to Dr Saleh Alawji, the chairman of Saudi

Electricity Company (SEC) and deputy minister for electricity.

"100 to 200 billion Saudi riyals should come from the investors," said Dr Alawji, speaking at a utilities conference in Abu Dhabi today.

Some 80bn riyals worth of power projects are already in the SEC's pipeline to bring another 12 gigawatts online, adding to current total capacity of 50 GW.

Although that capacity is critical in the peak summer months, much lies idle in winter. The government is conducting a feasibility study on exporting surplus power to Europe.

"We need to identify the requirements for technical as well as the legal and political environments," Dr Alawji said.

The kingdom is expected to announce next week in Riyadh a tariff for solar power, a move calculated to attract experienced renewable energy producers. Such a system could look like feed-in tariffs common in Europe, where government agreements to buy solar power at a set price have helped renewable companies to take off.

"The feed-in tariff is the most essential in my opinion," Dr Alawji said. "Without that we cannot move."