On Dec. 17, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia announced that solar energy would become the source of electricity for its buildings. The German company Conergy Asia-Pacific was awarded a 65 million Riyal (US$17.3 million) contract in partnership with the Saudi company National Solar Systems to build the solar energy plant for the university in Thuwal, north of Jeddah.
The project, which is directed by the oil giant Aramco on behalf of the Saudi government, will produce 2 MW of electrical power via solar cells linked to the electrical grid. Two 1,000 Kilowatt solar power plants will be built using around 12,000 square metres of solar panels that meet the highest international standards.
The contract calls for Conergy to design the project and provide all of the plant's components, while National Solar Systems will be in charge of plant construction and management. The project will also bring together high-performance solar energy units from Sunpower Corporation and Conergy electric and electronics systems.
The photovoltaic plant, the first of its kind in the GCC area, is expected to produce 3,332 MW per hour of clean energy a year, which will offset up to 1,666 tons of carbon emissions per year.
Conergy said Saudi Arabia's dry climate and large surface area provide the perfect environment for harnessing solar power. Despite being an oil-rich country, Saudi Arabia is also giving high priority to developing alternative energy sources to sustain the potential for economic growth over the long term.
[Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Al-Bayan newspaper]