Whenever we think of a middle-eastern country, especially Saudi Arabia, what strikes us first is the large expanse of desert with a bright sun beaming over the oil producing land. Being one of the largest exporters of oil and the holder of almost one-fifth of the world’s oil reserves, we wouldn’t usually link the Arab land to be a player in the field of renewable energy. That said, the world is always full of surprises!
The rich and prosperous desert kingdom though currently doing quite well with its oil resources, has decided to divulge into a new venture that includes solar power. Saudi has announced a grand solar power project that would be an investment of nearly – hold your breath – $(US) 100 Billion.
There will be plants built both in the desert as well as gulf regions. The estimate cost of the plants being nearly $130 million each. It is a three year long plan in partnership with a Spanish solar power company. The aim of this investment is to generate approximately 40 GW of solar energy by the year 2032. While this sounds like a great idea at the outset, people are concerned as to hidden motives attached to this project.
Different studies have shown that we have reached a “peak oil” period and that hereon the supply of oil will only reduce. Of course there are inconsistent results as to when we will cease to have oil as a source of fuel. The question that has arisen however with this new development in Saudi is, whether the oil reserves are drying up faster than anyone estimated.
QUESTIONING THE MOTIVES
Maybe we are reading too much into this whole project. It is possible that the al-Saud royals have realized the need to prepare for an eco-friendlier future. The cost of digging out oil is inevitably going to skyrocket sometime (maybe not for decades) in the future. The resource that is a major source of revenue for the Arabs is after all exhaustible.
Maybe the scheme is just a safety-net or maybe an attempt to keep up with the modern world. Progressive nations have started frowning upon the environmental damage that the oil tankers cause. The global impact of the pollution created by mining activities cannot be ignored. It is a possibility that the thought of saving the world from the harmful effects of climate change has suddenly entered the minds of those who initiated this project.
A more pragmatic possibility would be that the Arab big guns realised that with the unchangeable dip in oil resources, it may be time to step into the sector of renewable power. It is only natural that the business minds of the Sheikhs would see that harnessing solar energy as compared to the traditional fossil fuels would be the more cost-effective choice.
THE RIGHT MOVE
Though there may be ulterior motives behind this new plan, and though things weren’t as utopian as an idealist would’ve wanted them to be, all in all the idea of switching to solar energy using non-polluting technology sounds brilliant. With the future change in oil prices, this solar energy project will prove useful and profitable not only to Saudi Arabia but the global community at large.