Saudi Arabia plans to invest in off-grid, hybrid solar energy

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Off-grid solar photovoltaic applications and hybrid solutions are more relevant in Saudi Arabia because of the superlative solar radiation, industrial penetration into remote areas, and the staggering volume of diesel imports.

Nearly a quarter of the Saudi energy grid is powered by diesel, a fuel used for transportation and electricity generation. At least $1 billion is spent every month on diesel imports to the Kingdom.

Due to weaknesses in electricity grid connection and huge demand, the usage of PV-generated electricity to offset diesel usage is becoming appealing for utilities and industrial corporations.

FAS Energy is providing small, medium and large-scale hybrid power plants by investing on businesses in areas without electricity, said, Sabri Asfour, general manager, FAS Energy, who will be speaking at the second edition of the Desert Solar Saudi Arabia conference that will be held from 17-18 September.

The event is gathering stakeholders in the Saudi Arabian solar energy market, hosting more than 150 decision makers from across the industry.

During the two-day conference, Asfour, with SolaireDirect and First Solar counterparts will be exploring solar-powered detoxification solutions for the Kingdom.

The conference will also discuss the requirements for the off-grid and hybrid solar solutions for the country’s desert areas.

According to a report by K.A.CARE, border posts, highway family rests, remotely located mosques and small-sized villages all represent potential for micro-generation through hybrid designs, including solar-powered desalination and cooling.

The Nofa Equestrian Resort, Riyadh, is benefitting from the 1 MW CPV plants, which is offsetting the resort’s 14 MW diesel generator.

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Besides, Saudi Aramco and Saudi Electricity Company are discussing plans to replace as much as 300 MW of diesel generation in off-grid locations with solar PV.

Companies like FAS Energy are preparing to supply the local market with hybrid solutions. This kind of solution will be introduced in shopping malls, farms, hotels, schools and universities, on rooftops, ground-mounted or in car parks.

However, solar energy will not make the transition on its own. A flexible power generation, power networks, demand side management and storage is also needed, says, Michael Sterner, professor, energy storage, Technical University of Regensburg.

At Desert Solar, Sterner will share his insights on the latest developments and cost reduction trends in PV energy storage and will present a case study from the German electricity market.

The Desert Solar Conference is part of a week-long trade mission offering international solar executives and investors the opportunity to meet with a high-level delegation of Saudi solar stakeholders.

The event will be held from 14-18 September, 2014 and is jointly organized by international solar conference organizer Solarplaza and the Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association (SASIA).

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