For years, grid parity – the time when solar and wind would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear – was the holy grail of renewables energy, a target to reach in a distant future. But the future is now.
When one thinks of the Middle East nowadays, oil comes to mind. But with solar photovoltaic booming right now all around the region and beyond, this might not be the case in twenty or thirty years.
I already had mentioned very ambitious plans from Saudi Arabia to jump-start a solar revolution. So the following news aren’t totally surprising me. As The Guardian reported :
” Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family. “
” But the process is likely to take decades, and some observers are sceptical as to whether it is any more than window-dressing. “
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer with ten million barrels out of the 89 million consumed each day on Planet Earth. The consequences of this country having to import oil would be disastrous for our world economies.
This scenario could actually take place in less than two decades, according to Citigroup as Bloomberg and Grist report. Indeed, half of the electricity produced in the kingdom comes from oil and the demand is increasing rapidly.
This is explained by the massive subsidies given by the Saudi Aramco to local power companies that pay around $10 per barrel.
Yes, you read that right : the oil superpower is willing to tap into its significant solar potential by installing no less than 41 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2032. The project is estimated to cost $109 billion (84 billion euros).
Out of the 41 GW of capacity, 16 will be brought by solar photovoltaic (PV) and the remaining 25 will be coming from Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). This will be a smart use of the Kingdom’s huge deserts.
As Green Prophet notes the project will enable the country to save half a million barrels of oil per day. Solar would then account for a third of the electricity production.
In French, we have an expression, ” la fuite en avant “ which can be explained this way : “A fuite en avant is something one does when one is in a losing situation, and one hopes to salvage it by doing more of the same or worse.”
Not that I want to delve into linguistics… I am writing about this as the answer to our oil woes is not “more” but “less”. We are beyond the end of conventional oil. The International Energy Agency stated so.
What we are heading towards is unconventional and dirtier, even extreme oil. Think about the mess caused by oil shales…
To the Guardian : ” The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in show. The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the … Read more
According to an article from The Economist, Iraq has plans to quadruple its oil production by the next seven years. This would increase the production from the current 2.5 million barrels per day to 12 million barrels. This would bring Iraq as the world’s first oil producer, putting Saudi Arabia in the second place. The … Read more
I was reporting last week that non-OPEC oil production peaked in 2004 and Russia – the world’s second largest exporter – peaked in 2008. The situation was already quite serious. Yesterday the Oil Drum published an article stating that the world’s first oil producer saw it’s production peak in 2005 with 9.6 million barrels/day. Last … Read more