In the summer of 2015, The Atlantic ran a story about Prince Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al Saud, a member of the family that rules Saudi Arabia. Turki was quietly helping Saudi Arabia make “one of the world’s biggest investments in solar power.” Factories to produce solar panels and material used in solar cells were in preparation. Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, was teaming up with Saudi Electricity Company, the country’s main power producer, to plan 10 solar projects for Saudi Arabia.
Although Saudi Arabia has 30 million people, the nation is the 6th largest global consumer of oil. Almost everything runs on oil in Saudi Arabia – and that includes most electricity. The inexpensive oil has led to large amounts of waste – large cars, few buildings with insulation, and air conditioners that run, at very low temperatures, even when the homeowner is on vacation.
Saudi elites believe they must change these wasteful practice if they want to remain a global power as well as maintain political stability. Saudi Arabia consumes about 25% of the oil they produce. with an annual increase of 7%, Chatham House, a British think tank, estimates they will be a net oil importer by 2038. Once they become an oil importer their ability to maintain their largely tax-free and social-service oriented state will become unsustainable.
Renewable energy solves many of their problems. Solar power will relieve some of the country’s demand for oil, while manufacturing and exporting solar panels will aid in diversifying the Saudi economy. Additionally, panel production will provide high-paying tech jobs for young Saudis- a necessity given that two-thirds of the country’s population is under 30.
— CleanTechnica (@cleantechnica) April 25, 2017
Over the almost past two years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up their renewable energy game. In January 2017, the country announced that they plan on becoming a “solar powerhouse” by investing billions into the industry. Earlier this month, they upped the ante by broadcasting that within six years 10% of their electricity would be from solar and wind power. Bloomberg reported this week that Saudi Arabia remains committed to diversifying their economy from fossil fuels by 2030 and exporting renewables products still remains a large part of their plan.
Meanwhile at home, Trump is “Making America Great Again” by attempting to revoke the protected status of national monuments and federal lands, a giveaway to multinational energy corporations hungry for new sites to explore for oil, gas, and coal.
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) April 27, 2017