Quantcast
Popular
A solar plant north of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP / Getty Images

Sun Sets on Saudi Arabia’s Ambitious Solar Project

A shadow has fallen over Saudi Arabia's plans to build the world's largest solar project, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.


Saudi energy officials familiar with the project told the journal that the $200 billion installation was on hold. One official said that no land had been chosen for the project, and officials were unsure how its development would be structured or if it would receive government subsidies.

"Everyone is just hoping this whole idea would just die," the official told The Wall Street Journal.

Saudi Arabia currently generates most of its energy from fossil fuels and does not yet generate any power from solar energy, despite its sunny climate and large deserts, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has initiated plans to diversify its energy portfolio, Deutsche Welle explained.

The announcement in March of the solar project, which would have ultimately generated 200 gigawatts of energy, more than three times what Saudi Arabia uses each day, was a splashy way to introduce that transition. It was to continue a partnership between Saudi Arabia and Japanese tech multinational SoftBank. The two had already teamed up for a $100 billion Vision Fund to finance new and innovative technologies and companies, including renewable energy in the desert country.

"It is easy to sway or grab one's attention" a senior Saudi government adviser told The Wall Street Journal of the solar project. "But difficult to do any execution."

The hold-up of the ambitious solar farm does not mean that Saudi Arabia has turned its back on renewable energy. Instead, advisers and officials told The Wall Street Journal that the country is working on a more practical strategy that will be announced in late October.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund said in a statement Monday that the country was still developing "large-scale multi-billion-dollar" solar projects with SoftBank and other organizations. "These plans to develop a leading champion for the industry remain on track and in-line with the timeline that would be anticipated for projects of this scale and ambition," the statement continued.

SoftBank declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal story.

PV Magazine pointed out that the stalling of the project was not entirely unexpected.

"Saudi Arabia has a long history of announcing big numbers on a long timeframe, and these are usually subject to substantial revision," head of solar at Bloomberg NEF Jenny Chase told PV Magazine when the project was first announced.

The first leg of the project was supposed to be funded with $1 billion from the Vision Fund and generate 7.2 gigawatts of energy within two years. The Vision Fund has not made public whether it has put any money towards the project so far, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
In 2018, the Arctic region had the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage on record. NOAAPMEL / YouTube

The Past 5 Years Were the Arctic's Warmest on Record

The Arctic is still warming at twice the rate of anywhere else on Earth, and the region's air temperatures in the past five years between 2014-2018 have exceeded all previous records since 1900, according to a peer-reviewed report released by the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday.

The agency's 13th annual Arctic Report Card also concluded that 2018 was second only to 2016 in terms of the region's overall warmth.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
Partial solar eclipse. ndersbknudsen, CC BY 2.0

3 Key Dangers of Solar Geoengineering and Why Some Critics Urge a Global Ban

By Justin Mikulka

A Harvard research team recently announced plans to perform early tests to shoot sunlight-reflecting particles into the high atmosphere to slow or reverse global warming.

These research efforts, which could take shape as soon as the first half of 2019, fall under the banner of a geoengineering technology known as solar radiation management, which is sometimes called "sun dimming."

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Even an increase of 2°C would cause significant sea level rise. pxhere

Report: Current Climate Policies Will Warm the World by 3.3˚C

This past October, a widely disseminated United Nations report warned that far-reaching and significant climate impacts will already occur at 1.5˚C of warming by 2100.

But in a study released Tuesday, researchers determined that the current climate polices of governments around the world will push Earth towards 3.3˚C of warming. That's more than two times the aspirational 1.5˚C target adopted by nearly 200 nations under the 2015 Paris agreement.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
garett_mosher / iStock / Getty Images

McDonald's to Reduce Antibiotics Use in Beef

In a significant win in the fight to save antibiotics, McDonald's—the largest and most iconic burger chain on the planet—announced Tuesday that it will address the use of antibiotics in its international supply chain for beef by 2021.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Protesters clashes with riot police on Foch avenue next to the Place de l'Etoile, setting cars ablaze during a Yellow Vest protest on Dec. 1 in Paris. Etienne De Malglaive / Getty Images

The Lesson From a Burning Paris: We Can’t Tax Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

By Wenonah Hauter

The images from the streets of Paris over the past weeks are stark and poignant: thousands of angry protesters, largely representing the struggling French working class, resorting to mass civil unrest to express fear and frustration over a proposed new gas tax. For the moment, the protests have been successful. French President Emmanuel Macron backed off the new tax proposal, at least for six months. The popular uprising won, seemingly at the expense of the global fight against climate change and the future wellbeing of our planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Rainbow Mountains in Vinicuna, Perú. Megan Lough / UI International Programs / CC BY-ND 2.0

7 Reasons Why #Mountains Matter

December 11 is International Mountain Day, an annual occasion designated by the United Nations to celebrate Earth's precious mountains.

Mountains aren't just a sight to behold—they cover 22 percent of the planet's land surface and provide habitat for plants, animals and about 1 billion human beings. The vital landforms also supply critical resources such as fresh water, food and even renewable energy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Tetra Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Don’t Stress About What Kind of Christmas Tree to Buy, but Reuse Artificial Trees and Compost Natural Ones

By Bert Cregg

Environmentally conscious consumers often ask me whether a real Christmas tree or an artificial one is the more sustainable choice. As a horticulture and forestry researcher, I know this question is also a concern for the Christmas tree industry, which is wary of losing market share to artificial trees.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The Woolsey Fire seen from Topanga, California on Nov. 9. Peter Buschmann / Forest Service, USDA

Hotter Planet Makes Extreme Weather Deadlier, New Study Finds

By Jake Johnson

With people across the globe mobilizing, putting their bodies on the line, and getting arrested en masse as part of a broad effort to force the political establishment to immediately pursue ambitious solutions to the climate crisis, new research published on Monday provided a grim look at what the future will bring if transformative change is not achieved: colossal flooding, bigger fires, stronger hurricanes and much more.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!