Saudi Arabia's first wind farm, the biggest in the Middle East, has started producing electricity after connecting to the grid as the kingdom plans to account for almost half of the region's wind capacity additions by 2028.
Dumat Al Jandal, which is being developed by France’s EDF and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, has produced its first carbon-free megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy and will help bolster Saudi Arabia's network during the hot summer months when electricity consumption is at its peak, the companies said.
"We are now looking forward to successfully reaching, with our partners and contractors, the full commissioning of the project in the months to come," Olivier Marchand, project director of Dumat Al Jandal Wind Co for Energy, said.
When complete, the 400MW wind farm will generate carbon-free energy to power up to 70,000 Saudi households, while saving 988,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, as part of the kingdom's plans to turn green its power mix.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of oil, plans to generate 50 per cent of its energy from clean sources as the country seeks to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons.
The Dumat Al Jandal wind farm consists of 99 wind turbines from supplier and EPC contractor Vestas, each with a power output of 4.2 MW.
Construction began in September 2019 and the wind turbine erection works are "near completion", the companies said.
"The successful connection of the project to the electricity transmission grid marks an important milestone for this landmark project in the kingdom and we look forward to project’s completion in the near future," Osama Al Othman, country representative for Saudi Arabia at Masdar, said.
The wind farm project created more than 600 local jobs during the construction phase, the companies said. Saudi Arabia's economic diversification agenda is focused on creating new jobs for young Saudi nationals.
The Dumat Al Jandal wind farm will supply electricity under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company, a subsidiary of the Saudi Electricity Company, which is the Saudi power generation and distribution company.
In April, the kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the country plans to add gas and renewables capacity equating to one million barrels of oil per day by 2030.