Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

April 01, 2014 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Saudi Arabia recedes as a potential market for solar developers.

Hashem Yamani, head of the Saudi renewable energy procurement agency, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy or K.A.CARE, arrived at the end of his four-year term without being reappointed or replaced. Dr. Khalid Al-Sulaiman, the vice president for renewable energy, is reported to have requested an early retirement.

K.A.Care had an ambitious plan to procure 54,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity over the next two decades. The departures after a year of delays and uncertainty suggest the procurement plan may be in jeopardy. They follow a recent decision by the Saudi government to put the rollout of the K.A.Care nuclear power program on a fast track. 

The continuing indecision of the Saudi leadership about the K.A.CARE renewable energy program suggests major differences in opinion at the highest echelons of the Saudi political establishment.

Sources say that Saudi Aramco’s increasingly apparent lack of buy in on the program caused friction and led eventually to deep political division.

Many developers have flocked to the Middle East in the past year and positioned themselves for the expected Saudi Arabian renewable energy boom. Although it would be unfair to conclude that all hope is lost for renewable energy in Saudi Arabia, the country’s leadership will have to work to regain the confidence of the development community if and when it decides to revive any renewable energy plan.