Electricity from large-scale PV power plants in Saudi Arabia could achieve costs as low as US$70, according to French PV developer Solairedirect.
With equipment and financing costs falling, the solar resource in Saudi Arabia could match some of the lowest levelised costs of energy (LCOE) possible globally.
“For systems with the right economies of scale – 10MW and above – solar power can now be generated at between US$70 and US$100/MWh. That price is more than four times lower than in 2009,” said Thierry Lepercq, founder and president at PV developer Solairedirect.
Estimates of possible LCOEs for solar in Chile have reached similar levels. The Fraunhofer Institute estimated the LCOE for solar in Germany in the third quarter of 2013 of €78-142/MWh (US$96-190/MWh).
“Today in Saudi Arabia, it is possible to reach a solar LCOE of between US$70/MWh in the higher irradiation/elevation areas in the western part of the kingdom, and around US$90/MWh in the Gulf area,” said Lepercq.
Saudi Arabia had been working on a procurement programme with as much as 1GW tipped to go on tender at the turn of the year. A shift in approach, taking repsonsbility from the nuclear and renewable energy body KA-CARE and into the hands of state oil company Saudi Aramco has created uncertainty once more about timelines in the Kingdom. The country has ambitions to invest US$109 billion in solar power.