Saudi energy ministry appoints new head of renewables development

Faisal Al Yemni will head the office tasked with installing 27.3GW of clean energy capacity by 2024

A Saudi man walks on a street past a field of solar panels at the King Abdulaziz city of Sciences and Technology, Al-Oyeynah Research Station, May 21, 2012. Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, may finally be getting serious about overcoming the technical and financial hurdles for tapping its other main resource: sunshine. Saudi Arabia wants to generate much more solar power as it lacks coal or enough natural gas output to meet rapidly rising power demand. Doing so would allow it to slash the volume of oil it burns in power plants bankrolled by billions of dollars worth of saved oil earnings. Picture taken May 21, 2012. To match story SAUDI-SOLAR/  REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed   (SAUDI ARABIA - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS) - RTR32IDZ
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Saudi Arabia's energy ministry has appointed Faisal Al Yemni as head of its renewable energy project development office (Repdo), as the world's largest oil exporter looks to add cleaner sources of power to its energy mix.

Mr Al Yemni will be tasked with executing the country's National Renewable Energy Programme, which looks to install around 60 Gigawatts of clean energy capacity by 2030. Of this, 40GW will come from solar photovoltaic, 16GW from wind and 2.7GW from concentrated solar power.

Mr Al Yemni, who was previously chief executive at GCC Assets Investment and Development Company, has 15 years of experience in renewables power as well as across the oil and gas value chain.

Riyadh has been moving away from burning crude to generate power, switching to gas-fired power plants and is now looking at renewables, as it seeks to free up its crude for the export market.

Saudi Arabia recently revised its renewable energy target from 9.5GW to 27.3GW to be achieved by 2024.

Around 70 per cent of renewable schemes in the kingdom will be executed by the sovereign Public Investment Fund, while the remainder will be awarded through Repdo.

Saudi Arabia last month invited 60 prequalified companies to submit bids for six solar energy schemes that have a combined capacity of 1.5GW. The Saudi energy ministry expects the schemes to attract around $1.4 billion in investment to its private sector. Another six projects, in round three of the National Renewable Energy Programme, will be tendered by the last quarter of the year.

Saudi Arabia last year awarded the kingdom's first utility-scale solar PV plant to Riyadh-based Acwa Power for a record low tariff of US Cents 2.3417/kWh (8.781 halalas/kWh).

The US$302 million Sakaka plant will be developed on the basis of an independent power producer model and is backed by a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company.

Saudi Arabia is also set to become the Middle East's biggest wind power market in the next decade. The kingdom will account for almost half of the region's wind capacity additions by 2028.

Developers will build 6.2GW of wind capacity – or 46 per cent of the region’s total wind capacity addition – between 2019 and 2028, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

The kingdom's first wind power project, costing $500m reached a financial close in July. The 400-MW wind farm is being executed by a consortium led by France's EDF and Masdar.