The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is positioning itself as a future solar energy powerhouse, with industry heavyweight SunEdison announcing it will join with local agencies in a feasibility study for the construction of an estimated $6.4 billion, 3 GW solar PV (photovoltaic) manufacturing plant at Wa’ad Al Shammal.
The announcement follows successful preliminary talks in 2013 between SunEdison and KSA’s National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP), a government agency designed to foster growth in five specific industries, including solar energy.
The Government of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil Investments) have both committed to the proposed project.
The plant would use SunEdison’s proprietary high pressure silane fluidized bed reactor (HP-FBR) polysilicon and continuous Czochralski (CCz) crystal ingot technology to produce solar wafers, cells and panels for domestic use and to further develop the Kingdom’s solar export market.
“We anticipate substantial growth of solar PV within the Kingdom and the region. This project will support that growth, and the growth aspirations of SunEdison and our Saudi partners,” said Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison.
“The combination of SunEdison technology, and the Kingdom’s world-class manufacturing and energy sector expertise will enable us to capitalize on substantial growth in the Kingdom and the region, and maximize the value of solar PV projects supported by this venture.”
The proposed plant has strong government support, with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals and the Saudi Electrical Company (SEC) pledging to provide natural gas and other energy needs should construction begin; which could occur in 2017.
Eng. Azzam Shalabi, President of NICDP said, “This project will be capable of building a complete industrial eco-system that is sustainable and able to compete on a global level by utilizing pioneering technology developed by SunEdison to produce high purity polysilicon, and high-efficiency, low-cost mono-crystalline ingots, in addition to benefiting from economies of scale given the size and vertically integrated nature of the complex.”