Saudi Arabia awards first major wind project worth $500m


RIYADH — Saudi Arabia on Thursday awarded a contract to build a $500 million wind farm, a first for the world's top oil exporter as it pushes to diversify its energy sector.

A consortium led by France's EDF and Abu Dhabi's Masdar won the bid for the 400-megawatt Dumat Al-Jandal wind project in the northern Al Jouf province, Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources said.

"The project will be Saudi Arabia's first utility-scale wind farm," the ministry said. "This milestone represents another significant step... towards creating a diversified power sector mix."

The project will generate power to supply up to 70,000 Saudi households, it added.

Thursday's announcement comes a day after the Kingdom said its huge oil reserves, already the second largest in the world behind only Venezuela, are even bigger than previously thought.

The ministry said proven oil reserves stood at 263.2 billion barrels at the end of last year, up from the figure of 261 billion barrels that has been used for almost three decades.

But Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States have been looking into ways to cut their energy bills and diversify their power sources away from oil. Virtually all of Saudi Arabia's power currently comes from crude or refined oil and natural gas.

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, last year unveiled plans to develop the globe's biggest solar power project in partnership with Japan's SoftBank group, which is estimated to cost $200 billion

The memorandum of understanding seeks to produce up to 200 gigawatts of power by 2030 — about 100 times the capacity of the current biggest projects. — AFP