All systems go for Saudi Arabia’s top ground-mounted PV plant

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(Image credit: Suntech)

A ground-mounted solar project billed as Saudi Arabia’s largest to date has reached the finish line, and is now set to power the operations of a food and beverage conglomerate.

Listed firm Almarai Company announced this week the completion of 15MW Al Kharj Solar project, built at costs of SAR44.4 million (around US$12 million).

The corporate, specialised in food and drinks manufacturing and distribution, said the 44,000-panel installation will generate 28GWh of solar power every year.

In a statement published by Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange Tadawul, Almarai explained Al Kharj will bring annual CO2 emission savings of 8,100 tonnes, equal to planting more than 8,000 trees.

The plant, Almarai said, will be followed by further solar PV installations by the end of 2020. The overall goal is to ensure a tenth of power needs are covered by renewables, the firm added.

“Greenhouse gas emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption, and rising energy costs, have an impact not only on the environment but also on our financial bottom line,” the firm’s statement read.

Al Kharj’s completion marks a boost to Saudi Arabia’s solar scene, weeks after Wood Mackenzie predicted the Kingdom will join France, Taiwan and other fellow “engines” as it grows to install 1-5GW of PV every year by 2024.

At 30MW, a larger PV project than Al Kharj is inching towards construction, also with the support of a food-making corporate.

In late July, dairy product specialist NADEC gave its all-clear to the deployment by Enel of a 30MW plant in Saudi Arabia’s east, under a PPA with fixed price of 0.094 riyals per kWh (around US$0.025/kWh).

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