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Saudi Aramco has forecast that the kingdom's daily energy demand will reach an equivalent of 8.3mn barrels by 2028, more than double the 3.4mn barrels equivalent in 2009.
Currently, of the 8.3mn barrels daily in oil production, more than three million barrels are consumed by the domestic market, mainly to fuel national industries.
Value chain products
In the meantime, the National Industrial Clusters Development Programme (NICDP) is promoting solar energy value chain products to support solar power plants which are envisioned to be established across the kingdom as a component of the country's resolve to harness renewable energy to meet increasing electricity demand.
Saudi Arabia's industrial clusters programme in solar energy products is introducing the polysilicon and photovoltaic technologies, said Azzam Shalabi, president of the National Industrial Clusters Development Programme.
"The programme is currently developing three projects in the silicon route which would bring in 12 KTA of solar grade polysilicon and semiconductor grade polysilicon," Shalabi said during his presentation on the progress of the industrial clusters plan of the kingdom.
He said in a press release the polysilicon projects will integrate other projects, such as the production of ingot, wafer and cells, ensuring the production of modules upon the development of the local market.
A number of local firms are now conducting feasibility studies on the production of solar photovoltaic thin films for local and export markets.
The solar energy project encourages also the conversion of the kingdom's high quality silica sand for the production of solar grade glass for exports.
Solar and renewable energy
Saudi Arabia has now resolved to harness solar power and renewable energy to meet its increasing electricity demand and, thereby, in the process, curb its dependence on crude oil.
According to the Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority (ACWA), an initial investment of more than US$100 billion will be needed to expand electricity power generating capacity and transmission grid, build renewable energy plants, and set up nuclear power installations.
A third of the US$100 billion is expected to fund the building of solar power plants and other renewable energy resources.
The Saudi Electricity Company's current generation capacity is about 45,000 megawatts, which is projected to increase to 75,000 megawatts by 2018 and to more than 120,000 megawatts by 2030.