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Conergy to install first rooftop plant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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The latest financial centre of Saudi Arabia, the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), will be reducing its dependence on the kingdom’s oil reserves and will be relying on solar technology from Conergy for a portion of its energy requirements. By installing a solar system on the roofs of parcels 5.07 and 5.08 – the first solar rooftop plant in Riyadh – the KAFD is choosing sustainable architecture with the aim of achieving one of the most significant eco certifications in the world: the “LEED Gold” certification awarded by the US Green Building Council.

At close to 200 kilowatts, the solar plant will not only be the first but also the largest rooftop plant in Riyadh. In collaboration with its local partner Modern Times Technical Systems (MTTS), Conergy will be installing over 800 Conergy PowerPlus 230M modules on some 1.7 kilometres of Conergy SunTop III mounting systems over a surface of 1,300 sqm. The 330 megawatt hours of clean energy generated each year – which could supply 1,500 computers in the financial centre – will be fed into the power grid of the metropolis via 14 string inverters. The solar plant will prevent the emission of 180 tons of the damaging greenhouse gas CO2 annually once it is connected to the grid by the first quarter of this year.

Conergy is providing support to companies in the Middle East on this new path towards sustainability. “The KAFD is no doubt an ecological pioneer, who we commend for playing this role,” says Alexander Lenz, Conergy President of South East Asia and the Middle East. “With its environmentally friendly architecture, the KAFD demonstrates how the Saudi financial sector can reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. With the first rooftop plant in Riyadh, the KAFD is setting an example – and simultaneously encouraging more green awareness and action in the Middle East.”

Currently, there are more solar plants under construction in Saudi Arabia with a total capacity of some 15 megawatts. Conergy has been contributing for many years now to the expansion of solar energy in the country: in 2010, the solar energy company erected the first, and at 2 megawatts also then the largest, solar plant of the kingdom on the roof of the “King Abdullah University of Science and Technology” (KAUST) in Thuwal. With its expansion into solar energy, Saudi Arabia is pursuing its goal of reducing its consumption of its oil and gas reserves that are intended for the export market. The Gulf state is instead planning to build their domestic infrastructure for renewable energy production. In June, the Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi commented on the situation by giving the following statement to news agency Bloomberg: “Saudi Arabia plans to generate solar electricity equalling the amount of its energy from crude exports.”

According to Green Alpha Advisors, Saudi Arabia exports approximately 2.7 billion barrels of oil a year. With one barrel of crude corresponding to around 1,700 kilowatt hours of electricity, the entire oil exports of the kingdom is equivalent to 4,590 billion kilowatt hours per year, a quarter of the world’s energy demand. To produce this amount of energy would require close to a quarter of a million solar PV plants with an installed capacity of 10 megawatts each. Compared to the solar capacity installed in Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring countries of approximately 100 MW, these targets appear rather ambitious. But they also show that sustainability is now on the agenda in the sun-bathed Gulf state – and that solar energy is part of their solution to create a sustainable future.
Solar PV | News published on 11 / 01 / 2012 by Andrew Callaway

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