The modernisation of a nation can take place gradually and over a period of time, or, alternatively, it can be initiated in one fell swoop. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the creation of the Vision 2030 programme - an unprecedented package of reforms to transform the Kingdom’s public sector operating model, economy and society as a whole, ensures the latter is applicable.
The programme - first unveiled in 2016, will look to transform areas such as healthcare, culture and energy. As a country, Saudi Arabia has become synonymous with oil and gas production, but Vision 2030 has signalled the beginning of a shift to a more sustainable energy production.
It is a logical step for a country that is the largest renewables market in the MENA region and as a company, Nesma Renewable Energy has embraced the impetus that the Vision 2030 framework has provided.
Nesma Renewables - part of the wider Nesma Company, was established in 2016 and is the company’s primary vehicle for developing and investing in renewable energy projects. The company is looking to help the country transition to a lower-carbon, more sustainable energy portfolio, with Nesma Renewable Energy’s development and investment in renewable energy assets key to that aim.
One of the main projects to have benefited from Nesma’s input is the Solar PV project in Jeddah. The solar plant utilises the latest technology in the PV market, combining bifacial PV modules with mounting structures that use single-axis tracking technology to maximise energy generation. The technology’s ability to follow the sun’s position throughout the day ensures the project can make the most of the country’s natural abundance of sun.
“The South Jeddah Noor project is a 300-megawatt solar PV project. It is spread across an area of eight square kilometres which, just to give you a bit of a frame of reference, is about one and a half thousand football pitches,” said Nesma Renewable Energy CEO, Amaan Lafayette.
The Jeddah project has been complemented by Saudi Arabia’s first wind farm - Dumat Al Jandal, which connected to the country’s electricity grid in 2021. The project is able to power 70,000 homes and saves up to 988,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, as the company continues to embrace the ambitious goals set out by Vision 2030.
“Saudi has been at the forefront of energy generation through its expertise in oil and gas, but as the country tries to diversify its economy, it’s seen that renewables is one of the key areas where change can take place.
“It means that an ecosystem is beginning to develop within the country around the delivery of these projects. That means all of the knowledge, capability and expertise will start to flow into the kingdom,” said Lafayette.
It is hoped that the development of the country’s collective knowledge and expertise will then be used to foster relationships in other regions, ensuring the positive ripple effects of Vision 2030 can begin to be felt outside the borders of Saudi Arabia.