Saudi Arabia aims to become the Germany of renewable energy

Matthew Martin, Salma El Wardany and Sylvia Westall
Bloomberg
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Saudi Arabia wants to emulate Germany’s success with renewable energy as well as pioneer the production of hydrogen.

“We will be another Germany when it comes to renewables,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Wednesday at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. “We will be pioneering.”

A Saudi man talks on his mobile under the shade of solar panel at a solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018.

The kingdom is working with many countries on green and blue hydrogen projects and those to capture carbon emissions, he said.

In this photo released by Saudi Energy Ministry, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia, chairs a virtual summit of the Group of 20 energy ministers at his office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Friday, April 10, 2020.

The green version of the fuel, which produces only water vapor when burned, is made with renewable energy, typically solar and wind power. The blue version is usually produced from natural gas, with the greenhouse gas emissions being captured so they can’t escape into the atmosphere.

While hydrogen is seen as crucial for the transition from oil and gas to cleaner fuels, the technology to make it is still comparatively expensive.

Prince Abdulaziz said Saudi Arabia planned to convert half its power sector to gas, while the remainder would be fueled by renewable energy. Presently, the kingdom burns plenty of oil in its power plants.

Saudi Arabia is committed to net-zero emissions, he said, without giving a time frame for achieving that.

Germany, a country not known for sunny weather, has become one of the world’s biggest producers of solar energy, largely thanks to heavy government subsidies that helped spur the industry.

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