The Sakaka Solar Project : The Beginning of Renewable Energy Projects in Saudi Arabia

Today, countries are seeking to find new sources of clean energy and electricity in order to support the environment and the economy at the same time, and the difference between solar energy and photovoltaic energy has attracted the attention of many interested in this field.

What is the Sakaka Solar Project? 

Based on this, and within the Kingdom’s vision for 2030 , which aims to exploit the Kingdom’s strengths, Saudi Arabia has established the Sakaka solar photovoltaic plant in Al-Jawf region, which is considered one of the renewable energy projects and the distinguished solar energy project of the Ministry of Energy, in addition to being the first project of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Sharifain Renewable Energy.

What is the goal of the Sakaka project and what is its working principle?

The Sakaka project aims to preserve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as a contribution to the liquid fuel displacement program and to contribute to finding the optimal energy mix and shaping the features of a circular carbon economy.

The plant uses solar energy through photovoltaic ( PV ) technology to generate electricity, and the project is implemented through the private sector through independent production ( IPP ), and the energy it will produce will be purchased through an agreement with the Saudi Energy Purchase Company for a period of up to 25 years.

What does the Sakaka solar power plant consist of?

The station consists of 1.2 million solar panels, built on an area of 6 square kilometers, and its location was carefully selected, secured and allocated by a specialized Saudi technical team, in order to achieve the highest possible quality of electrical energy production.

Success and cooperation partners in the Sakaka project

The project provided a world record tariff in the solar photovoltaic sector, which amounted to 8,775 halalas/kWh.

ACWA Power, which is the developer of the project, and Mahindra Sustin, the engineering, procurement and construction company, have agreed to assign the tasks of supplying the solar tracking systems for Sakaka to Nextracer ; This is due to the company's proven track record of delivering projects on time, its use of innovative technologies, its support for the local industry, and its extensive experience in implementing other projects in the region.

As the Sakaka plant is the first major solar power plant to be implemented in Saudi Arabia, Nextracer has faced significant difficulties in sourcing supply chain materials, providing the necessary labor and training, in addition to the challenging terrain and weather conditions of the site.

The company has cooperated within This solar energy project is working with the teams of the developer and the executing company for engineering, procurement and construction in order to manage the project in the best possible way, make the necessary changes in foundation designs, adhere to best practices in the implementation of construction, and expedite the date of start of trial operation of the plant.

Through its participation in a large and challenging project in an emerging region, the first of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Nextracer has proven its ability to successfully deliver its reliable solar tracking systems. As part of this project, Nextracer has also invested in manufacturing steel parts for its systems in the Kingdom, which is now part of its global supply chain network, and has worked to develop the region's clean energy workforce.

How will the Sakaka project contribute to achieving the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2030 ?

The Sakaka project and other renewable energy support programs that are being established throughout Saudi Arabia, are essential elements in the plans to reach the optimal energy mix for electricity production, which aim to have the share of gas and renewable energy sources in this mix about 50 percent by 2030. And that gas and renewable energy replace approximately one million barrels of oil equivalent per day of liquid fuels, which are consumed as fuel in the production of electricity, water desalination and in other sectors, in order to reach the mixture that is the least costly and most contributing to the protection and preservation of the environment.

The photovoltaic power plant is known as the Solar Field, and it is a large-scale photovoltaic system designed to power the national electricity grid. These stations differ from solar panels distributed on buildings in that they supply electricity according to the expected consumption need.

It is noteworthy that the process of photovoltaic energy generation is the process of converting light particles into electricity. Solar panels are usually made of several units of photovoltaic cells made of semiconductor materials such as silicon, which forms an electrical circuit. When the panel traps sunlight, electrons are emitted and are stored as an electric current.

It is noteworthy that the difference between CSP and PV is mainly that PV systems can be installed on a large scale in residential units and power plants, while CSP technologies are limited to major projects only.

PV systems can be installed anywhere, as they can work with diffuse radiation, while CSP systems can only work through direct radiation.

Today, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the largest exporter of crude oil in the world, seeks to diversify its sources of energy with each, and to enhance dependence on alternative energy by launching projects, developing them, and preparing their infrastructure.

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