In Saudi Arabia, a massive renewable energy program is expected to generate thousands of jobs.

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According to a Bloomberg report, the solar project seeks to harness renewable energy and build a local manufacturing industry that can boost the kingdom’s exports, and ultimately generate 7,000 jobs by 2020.

Saudi Arabia was earlier reported to require a $30 billion to $50 billion investment to materialize its renewable energy program that seeks to cut local crude consumption in one of the world’s largest oil exporters.

Bidders have been invited to pitch for the construction of 3.45-gigawatt solar and wind plants by 2020. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, however, is requiring bidders to spend 30 per cent of the capital through home-grown employees and companies.

“We want to create value. We don’t just want to bring in companies that open up manufacturing facilities at a very high premium, which the consumer will end up paying,” Turki al-Shehri, head of the renewable project development office in Saudi Arabia said.

Adding, “we want to ensure that whatever they are opening is competitive, that it can compete globally for exports.”

With the kingdom’s population growing annually, domestic demand for electricity has also been on the rise, prompting the government to find ways to diversify its energy mix. Currently, only a small portion (less than 1 per cent) of the country’s power supply is derived from renewable sources.

The renewable energy program hopes to increase the share of renewables in the power mix to 4 per cent by generating 3.45 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020, and an additional 9.5 gigawatts by 2023.

“[The program] is a multifaceted renewable energy strategy designed to balance the domestic power mix in order to deliver long term economic stability and prosperity to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, while working towards carbon reduction commitments,” the government said on its website.

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Petros Stathis

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