Solar Power Comes to Saudi Arabia in a Big Way as Peak Oil Looms

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter of oil. But as experts and WikiLeaks previously detailed--the country's oil supply may be fast dwindling and that has made renewable energy options, such as solar, that much more appealing. Just this week the country announced that construction of its largest solar power plant will be completed by September--and this just days after WikiLeaks reports about exaggerated oil quantities from the country hit the news. "The solar market in the Gulf region is still in its infancy," said Klaus Friedl, general manager of Phoenix Solar, the firm contracted to build the new solar plant. "There is, however, a huge potential for solar power plants in Saudi Arabia." The concern over oil shortages is no longer limited to supplying foreign countries--the rate of domestic consumption in Saudi Arabia is set to triple in the next 20 years to 120 gigawatts, which means that Saudis could foreseeably consume all of their oil just for themselves. "It's really a preservation decision using solar for domestic consumption and keeping your oil for more lucrative export markets," said Vahid Fotuhi, Middle East director of BP Solar. "Right now, out of the 8 million barrels per day they produce, over 3 million barrels per day are consumed domestically, mainly for power generation. That figure is growing 8 percent per annum," said Fotuhi.

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