JIZAN – The Kingdom’s first solar-powered electricity-generating plant, located on Farasan Island and launched on Saturday, marks the beginning of a new era in the country, Ali Saleh Al-Barrak, President of Saudi Electricity Company, said in a speech at the event.
The 500-killowatt plant, which will save transferring the equivalent of 28,000 barrels of diesel fuel to Farasan Island, is an example of ongoing efforts to address the Kingdom’s ever-increasing need for electricity, he said.
The plant, inaugurated by Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Suwayid, Undersecretary of the Governorate of Jizan region, has been linked with Jizan area’s main distribution network, which annually produces about 864,000 kilowatt hours, Al-Barrak said.
Setting up the facility, which was constructed according to an agreement with Showa Shell Sekiyu, a Japanese company, is part of the Saudi Electricity Company’s work to introduce clean energy in the country, he said.
Jun Arai, President of Showa Shell Sekiyu, said at the event that the plant would help conserve the natural beauty of Farasan Island.
His firm, which financed setting up the plant and built its structures, machinery and photoelectric panels, will own it for 15 years before it is transferred to the Saudi Electricity Company, Arai said.
Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco’s President and CEO, and Shigeru Endo, the Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom, also attended the event on the island, which is in the southwest corner of Saudi Arabia, about 50 kilometers off the Jizan coast.
Establishing the plant is part of the country’s effort to address its need for more energy, Al-Barrak said. Since 2006, annual growth in demand exceeded 8 percent, peak loads jumped from 23,000 megawatts to 48,000 megawatts and the same growth rate is expected to continue in the next decade, he said.
Growth in household and industrial consumption has created a need for the Saudi Electricity to build more power-generating plants and created a challenge for Saudi Aramco to secure fuel it needs in the coming years, he added. As part of its efforts to help meet those needs, the Saudi Electricity Company has approved several studies and research projects relating to clean energy and selected several places as possible sites for harnessing wind power, Al-Barrak said.
There is also ongoing coordination with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, he added. — SG/SPA