Biggest solar plant ‘a Saudi milestone’

Saudi Arabia has completed its biggest ground-mounted photovoltaic plant as the Kingdom seeks to generate a third of its electricity with energy from the sun by 2032. Germany’s Phoenix Solar AG (PS4) developed the 3.5-MW plant in Riyadh that uses 12,684 panels from China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (STP) and inverters from SMA Solar Technology AG (S92), Phoenix Solar said in a statement. “This project represents an important milestone in the development of the solar industry in the Kingdom,” Ron Shen, Suntech’s vice president of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, was quoted as saying in a statement, cited by news agencies.

Analysts say Saudi Arabia plans to boost renewable energy use as a way to pare back on oil consumption used for domestic desalinization and power plants, potentially saving 523,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day over the next 20 years. The Kingdom aims to have 41,000 MW of solar capacity within two decades, Maher Al-Odan, a consultant at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said last year. The 3.5 MW system is owned by Saudi Aramco and installed on the grounds of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), the world’s largest energy research center, in Riyadh.

Klaus Friedl, vice president projects and head Middle East of Phoenix Solar, said: “We are pleased to complete this historic project which will provide clean, renewable energy for KAPSARC as well as for the Saudi grid. We chose Suntech’s panels because of their proven durability and performance in high-temperature, desert conditions.” Utilizing Suntech’s premium solar panels, Phoenix Solar designed and built the 3.5MW system, which will enable KAPSARC to achieve LEED platinum certification. The ground mounted solar field comprises 12,684 Suntech panels and covers an area of 55,000 square meters.

The grid connected system is designed to supply 5,800 MW hours of electricity per year and offset roughly 4,900 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year. The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) is an independent non-profit institution that focuses on research in energy economics, policy, technology, and the environment. Its research areas include global energy markets and economics, energy efficiency and productivity, energy and environmental technologies, and carbon management. Founded in 1999, Phoenix Solar is a global leader in designing, building and operating large commercial and utility-scale solar power plants. Phoenix Solar’s technology-neutral approach enables them to objectively provide the best solar solutions for their customers.

Their people provide expertise at every level, from project finance all the way through to plant operations. Suntech Power Holdings Co. produces solar products for residential, commercial, industrial, and utility applications. With regional headquarters in China, Switzerland, and the US, and gigawatt-scale manufacturing worldwide, Suntech has delivered more than 25,000,000 photovoltaic panels to over a thousand customers in more than 80 countries. Suntech’s pioneering R&D creates customer-centric innovations that are designed to drive solar to grid parity against fossil fuels. Suntech’s mission is to provide everyone with reliable access to nature’s cleanest and most abundant energy source.