A feasibility study on utility-scale solar integration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



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Due to the vast fossil fuel wealth, the country of Saudi Arabia is experiencing a dramatic growth in both population and GDP. Therefore there is a growing demand for water and energy to meet these needs. All of the electricity that is generated is sourced from crude oil and natural gas. All natural gas production is used domestically and there are no net imports or exports. Due to many constrains on the natural gas supply, there is a slow shift in the generation mix going towards crude oil based power generation. This study assessed the viability of utility scale solar integration into the Saudi Arabian electric mix to potentially relieve some demand pressure for natural gas consumption as well as reduce green house gas emissions. Parabolic trough concentrated solar power technology was chosen as the primary technology for utility scale integration. A total of five scenarios were calculated. The scenarios include the following, base case, 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% solar integration in terms of installed capacity. Two sets of net present values were calculated. The net present values of each scenario were calculated. A second set of net present values was calculated with a projected increase in electricity prices. The natural gas and crude oil offset from the four solar integration scenarios were calculated using the base case forecasted natural gas and crude oil consumption from power generation. As expected, natural gas and crude oil consumption decreased when there was an increase in solar integration. The expected carbon dioxide offsets were calculated for each scenario. There was a decrease in carbon dioxide emission as solar integration was increased. Finally, all of these analyses were used as criteria for a decision analysis using the analytical hierarchy process. Depending on the decision maker’s importance on the determined criteria, solar integration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is achievable.