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Saudi Arabia in race against time to achieve 2030 green electricity goal

Although the kingdom has pledged to shift away from burning oil for electricity, the carbon intensity of its gross domestic product has moved in the opposite direction from the rest of the world.
Saudi solar

Chinese solar materials manufacturer GCL Technology Holdings said earlier this month it is in discussions with Saudi Arabia to build its first overseas factory in the Gulf kingdom to produce 120,000 tons of polysilicon annually, an essential material in the solar photovoltaic supply chain. 

The polysilicon manufacturer eyes the country's substantial solar market potential. Saudi Arabia plans to get 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. But although the share of renewables in the kingdom’s installed electricity generation capacities has jumped more than twelvefold since 2020, it currently accounts for just 1.3%. 

The largest Arab economy is in a race against time. It needs to bring online 50 times more renewable power‑generating capacity over the next seven years to meet its ambition of 58.7 gigawatts (GW) of clean electricity generation by 2030, compared to only 1.2 GW as of now. Global Energy Monitor, a US-based nonprofit, estimated that there are plans for 19.3 GW of solar and wind projects in Saudi Arabia as of August, but only 45% of that is under construction. 

Kasandra O'Malia, solar project manager at Global Energy Monitor, told Al-Monitor, “We are still short of the 2030 goal, but I think it is doable. One thing to keep in mind is that these projects can be built pretty quickly. But they would have to really put some effort into it,” The nonprofit does not include projects below a capacity of 10 megawatts, like decentralized solar on the rooftop of individual homes or companies, which is still in its infancy in the Gulf region.  

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