Saudi Arabia looks to become 'another Germany in renewables'

The kingdom plans to partner with European firms to develop blue and green hydrogen

Delegates walk during the fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference at the capital Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel on January 27, 2021. Saudi Arabia opened a two-day Davos-style investment forum, with dozens of global policy makers and business tycoons lined up to speak at the largely virtual event amid the coronavirus pandemic. Only 200 of around 8,000 registered delegates attended in-person, while around 100 speakers are set to participate virtually with 50 present physically. Previous summits drew thousands of Wall Street titans and global policymakers. / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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Saudi Arabia is looking to become "another Germany" when it comes to renewables, as the country looks to generate 50 per cent of its power from clean sources, its energy minister said.

The kingdom plans to partner with European firms to develop blue and green hydrogen, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the Future Investment Initiative late Wednesday.

"We're working with so many countries on green hydrogen and blue hydrogen and ... I could say that we will be pioneering more of that blue hydrogen and green hydrogen," he said. The annual event is being held in Saudi Arabia's capital city of Riyadh with a limited capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister's comments follow ambitious plans laid out by his ministry to assess the potential of becoming an exporter for the clean gas.

Hydrogen has become a popular alternative fuel among Gulf oil producers looking to diversify their energy sources. Blue hydrogen is derived from gas, while the green variant is produced from renewable sources.

Saudi Arabia's plans to diversify its economy away from reliance on hydrocarbons will begin with its utility sector, the minister said.

"We would be converting 50 per cent of our power sector's fuel into gas, and the rest will be coming from renewables," he told an online audience.

"In tandem with that, we will be saving thousands and hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil that are going to waste, that we could export," he added.

The country will be "progressively" moving forward with its efficiency programme and price reforms, he added.

Saudi Arabia has already launched a renewables programme and is constructing its first solar and wind power plants. The Gulf country also plans to develop atomic power for civilian use.

Prince Abdulaziz reiterated Saudi Arabia's commitments to the Paris Agreement, which pushes signatory countries to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 as deterrent to peaking global greenhouse gas emissions.

"We [as] Saudi Arabia [are] a staunch believer of [the] Paris Agreement. And we will do everything as a government to enable our government companies to achieve their targets," he said.

The agreement will bring "lots of economic growth and lots of diversity", he added.