The energy future must be accessible, affordable and mainly sustainable. Actually, there is an increased demand for energy worldwide, and 80 % of the present energy use is based on fossil fuels. Not only are oil prices increasing but also pollution continues to rise due to the burning of fossil fuels, and the probability of oil supply depletion remains. A critical part of the solution will lie in promoting renewable energy technologies in order to address concerns about energy security, economic growth in the face of high prices of crude oil, competitiveness, health costs and environmental degradation. All of these issues encourage the investigation of using renewable energy, which has several unique advantages that should be considered when making comparison with oil-based alternatives. Besides, achieving sustainable development is a target that is now widely recognized as important to humankind. In this context, the utilization of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy appears to be one of the most efficient and effective ways of achieving this goal since renewable energy is abundant universally and holds huge ecological and economic promise. Although the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the world’s major producer and exporter of fuel, and represents one of the biggest consumers of petroleum in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia should be interested in taking an active part in the development and exploitation of renewable energy technologies. In fact, the unsustainable use of fossil fuels and the activities which are mainly responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions are consistently in the upslope. That is why Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to contribute in renewable energy research through major joint international cooperation programs, despite the fact that it occupies a very advanced rank in the world in terms of huge proven oil and gas reserves. This paper describes the current status of energy and focuses on renewable and energy-efficient technologies, major achievements, and current government policies and challenges.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abdurrahman, K., Engin, G., Ali, K., & Mehmet Ali, A. (2011). An investigation on renewable energy education at the university level in Turkey. Renewable Energy, 36, 1293–1297.
Abu Hamed, T., Hannah, F., & Mohammad, A. (2012). Renewable energy in the Palestinian Territories: Opportunities and challenges. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 1082–1088.
Abulfaraj, W. (2012). Nuclear and Renewable Energy Building Resources for the Future, Fourth Saudi Solar Energy Forum May 2012.
Ahmet, Z. Ş., & Ahmet, A. (1998). Wind power energy potential at the northeastern region of Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 14, 435–440.
Aksakal, A., & Rehman, S. (2009). Global solar radiation in Northeastern Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 17, 461–472.
Al-Abbadi, N. M. (2005). Wind energy resource assessment for five locations in Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 30, 1489–1499.
AI-Ayed, M. S., AI-Dhafiri, A. M., & Bin Mahfoodh, M. (1998). Global, direct and diffuse solar irradiance in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 14, 249–254.
Al-Ajlan, S. A., Al-Ibrahim, A. M., Abdulkhaleq, M., & Alghamdi, F. (2006a). Developing sustainable energy policies for electrical energy conservation in Saudi Arabia. Energy Policy, 34, 1556–1565.
Al-Ajlan, S. A., Al-Ibrahim, A. M., Abdulkhaleq, M., & Alghamdi, F. (2006b). Developing sustainable energy policies for electrical energy conservation in Saudi Arabia. Energy Policy, 34(13), 1556–1565.
Alajlana, S. A., Smiaia, M. S., & Elania, U. A. (1998). Effective tools toward electrical energy conservation in Saudi Arabia. Energy Conversion and Management, 39, 1337–1349.
Alawaji, S. H. A. (2000). Renewable energy research and development activities in Saudi Arabia, Presented at The World Renewable Energy Congress VI, 1–7 July 2000.
Alawaji, S. H. (2001). Evaluation of solar energy research and its applications in Saudi Arabia—20 years of experience. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 5, 59–77.
Alawaji, S. H., Eugenio, N. N., & Elani, U. A. (1996). Wind energy resource assessment in Saudi Arabia: Part II: Data Collection and Analysis. Renewable Energy, 9, 818–821.
Alawaji, S. H., & Hasnain, S. M. (1999). Role of solar energy research in transferring of technology to Saudi Arabia. Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects, 21(10), 923–934.
Al-Hadhrami, L. M., & Ahmad, A. (2009). Assessment of thermal performance of different types of masonry bricks used in Saudi Arabia. Applied Thermal Engineering, 29, 1123–1130.
Alireza, A., Marja, N., & Bahnam, Z. (2012). The prime criteria for private sector participation in renewable energy investment in the Middle East (case study: Iran). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 1977–1987.
Al-Karaghouli, A., Renne, D., & Kazmerski, L. L. (2009). Solar and wind opportunities for water desalination in the Arab regions. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13, 2397–2407.
Almogren, S., & Veziroglu, T. N. (2004). Solar-hydrogen energy system for Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 29, 1181–1190.
Alnatheer, O. (2005). The potential contribution of renewable energy to electricity supply in Saudi Arabia. Energy Policy, 33, 2298–2312.
Alnatheer, O. (2006). Environmental benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy in Saudi Arabia’s electric sector. Energy Policy, 34, 2–10.
Al-Saleh, Y. (2009). Renewable energy scenarios for major oil-producing nations: The case of Saudi Arabia. Futures, 41, 650–662.
Alshaibani, K. (2001). Potentiality of daylighting in a maritime desert climate: the Eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 23, 325–331.
Alyousef, Y. & Abu-ebid, M. (2012) Energy Efficiency Initiatives for Saudi Arabia on Supply and Demand Sides. Energy Efficiency: A Bridge to Low Carbon Economy (2012), pp. 279–308.
Angeliki, N. M. (2013). Growth and renewable energy in Europe: Benchmarking with data envelopment analysis. Renewable Energy, 60, 363–369.
Anja, K., Leon, C., Janez, P., & Aleksandra, P. (2013). A novel concept for a renewable network within municipal energy systems. Renewable Energy, 60, 79–87.
Annika, S., Mats, L., Alf, R., Marcus, L., & Rafael, W. (2010). On the physics of power, energy and economics of renewable electric energy sources—Part II. Renewable Energy, 35, 1735–1740.
António, C. M., & José, A. F. (2011). Drivers promoting renewable energy: A dynamic panel approach. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 1601–1608.
Arani, K., Afreen, S., & Laura, D. A. (2012). A new case for promoting wastewater reuse in Saudi Arabia: Bringing energy into the water equation. Journal of Environmental Management, 102, 184–192.
Arif, H. (2008). A key review on exergetic analysis and assessment of renewable energy resources for a sustainable future. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 12, 593–661.
Arif, H., & Zeyad, A. (2011). A key review on present status and future directions of solar energy studies and applications in Saudi Arabia. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 5021–5050.
Arsalan, N., & Carlos, R. M. (2012). Potential of the renewable energy development in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 5260–5267.
Ashwani, K., Kapil, K., Naresh, K., Satyawati, S., & Saroj, M. (2010). Renewable energy in India: Current status and future potentials. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14, 2434–2442.
Athanasios, A. D., Markus, B., Javier, D., Giulia, F., Sabine, G., Edgard, G., et al. (2011). Methods and tools to evaluate the availability of renewable energy sources. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 1182–1200.
Balat, M., & Ayar, G. (2005). Biomass Energy in the World, use of biomass and potential trends. Energy Sources, 27, 931–940.
Banos, R., Manzano-Agugliaro, F., Montoya, F. G., Gila, C., Alcayde, A., & Gomez, J. (2011). Optimization methods applied to renewable and sustainable energy: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 1753–1766.
Bin Gadhi, S. M., & Mohammed, A. M. (1998). A review of renewable energy activities in Yemen. Renewable Energy, 14, 459–465.
Calvert, K., Pearce, J. M., & Mabee, W. E. (2013). Toward renewable energy geo-information infrastructures: Applications of GIScience and remote sensing that build institutional capacity. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 18, 416–429.
Charikleia, K., Charalampos, P., Vangelis, M., & John, P. (2013). Renewable energy and nuclear power towards sustainable development: Characteristics and prospects. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 22, 187–197.
Ching-Hui, L., Hsin-Hung, O., Shang-Lien, L., Pei-Te, C., & Yue-Hwa, Y. (2011). A challenging approach for renewable energy market development. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 787–793.
Dargin, J. (2009). Saudi Arabia, UAE promote energy from sun and wind. Oil & Gas Journal, 107(12), 18–22.
Dawud, F., Zahra, S. E., & Azadeh, A. (2011). Analyzing the causes of non-development of renewable energy-related industries in Iran. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 2690–2695.
del Pablo, R., & Mercedes, B. (2009). An empirical analysis of the impact of renewable energy deployment on local sustainability. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13, 1314–1325.
El Fadel, M., Rachid, G., El-Samra, R., Bou Boutros, G., & Hashisho, J. (2013). Knowledge management mapping and gap analysis in renewable energy: Towards a sustainable framework in developing countries. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 20, 576–584.
El-Sebaii, A. A., Al-Hazmi, F. S., Al-Ghamdi, A. A., & Yaghmour, S. J. (2010). Global, direct and diffuse solar radiation on horizontal and tilted surfaces in Jeddah. Saudi Arabia. Applied Energy, 87, 568–576.
Ertuğrul, Y., Şenay, S., & Alper, A. (2012). Energy consumption and economic growth in the USA: Evidence from renewable energy. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 6770–6774.
Gately, D., Al-Yousef, N., & Al-Sheikh, H. M. H. (2012). The rapid growth of domestic oil consumption in Saudi Arabia and the opportunity cost of oil exports foregone. Energy Policy, 47, 57–68.
Haberl, H., Beringer, T., Bhattacharya, S. C., Erb, K. H., & Hoogwijk, M. (2010). The global technical potential of bio-energy in 2050 considering sustainability constraints. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2(5–6), 394–403.
Haslenda, H., & Shin, W. H. (2011). Renewable energy policies and initiatives for a sustainable energy future in Malaysia. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 4780–4787.
Himri, Y., Arif, S. M., Stambouli, A. B., Himri, S., & Draoui, B. (2009). Review and use of the Algerian renewable energy for sustainable development. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13, 1584–1591.
Hsiao-Tien, P., & Hsin-Chia, F. (2013). Renewable energy, non-renewable energy and economic growth in Brazil. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 25, 381–392.
Hui-Ming, W., Wen-Hsiung, Y., Chao-Wu, C., & Marivic, V. P. (2012). Renewable energy supply chains, performance, application barriers, and strategies for further development. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 5451–5465.
Huraib F. S., Hasnain S. M., & Alawaji S. H. Lessons learned from solar energy projects in Saudi Arabia. World Renewable Energy Congress (1996) 1144–1147.
Hussein, A. K. (2011). Renewable energy in Oman: Status and future prospects. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 3465–3469.
Hussein, A. K., & Miqdam, T. C. (2012). Status and future prospects of renewable energy in Iraq. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 6007–6012.
Ibrahim, S. M. A. (1984). Energy in the Arab world. Energy, 9, 217–238.
Ibrahim, Y., & Kamil, K. (2011). Renewable energy sources for clean and sustainable energy policies in Turkey. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 4132–4144.
Imran, T., Shafiqur, R., & Khaled, B. (2002). Application of neural networks for the prediction of hourly mean surface temperatures in Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 25, 545–554.
Junginger, M., Faaij, A., & Turkenburg, W. C. (2005). Global experience curves for wind farms. Energy Policy, 33, 133–150.
Kamaruzzaman, S., Baharuddin, A., & Nilofar, A. (2011). Strategies for renewable energy applications in the organization of Islamic conference (OIC) countries. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 4706–4725.
Kanase-Patil, A. B., Saini, R. P., & Sharma, M. P. (2010). Integrated renewable energy systems for off grid rural electrification of remote area. Renewable Energy, 35, 1342–1349.
Kasthurirangaian, K. (2003). Renewable Energy for Industries at 3rd South Asia Renewable Energy, Conference 2008 at New Delhi. On 25th April 2008. Indian Wind Power Association.
Kinab, E., & Elkhoury, M. (2012). Renewable energy use in Lebanon: Barriers and solutions. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 4422–4431.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (1970). Ministry of Economy and Planning, The achievements of development plans: Facts and Figures Twenty-seventh version (1970–2013) ISSN 1319-2507, (pp. 1–362).
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (2010). Ministry of Economy and Planning, Ninth Development Plan 2010–2014; ISSN 1319-4836, pp. 1–673.
Laurencas, R. (2012). Renewable energy sector in Belarus: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 5399–5413.
Lowenstein, M. Z., & Smith, I. C. (1979) The Joint Saudi Arabian-United States Solar Energy Program. In American institute of aeronautics and astronautics, terrestrial energy systems conference. 4–6 June 1979. p. 6 p.
Lund, P. D. (2009). Effects of energy policies on industry expansion in renewable energy. Renewable Energy, 34, 53–64.
Maghrabi, A. H. (2009). Parameterization of a simple model to estimate monthly global solar radiation based on meteorological variables, and evaluation of existing solar radiation models for Tabouk, Saudi Arabia. Energy Conversion and Management, 50, 2754–2760.
Mansouri, Noura Y., Crookes, Roy J., & Korakianitis, T. (2013). A projection of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector for Saudi Arabia: The case for carbon capture and storage and solar photovoltaics. Energy Policy, 63, 681–695.
Manzano-Agugliaro, F., Alcayde, A., Montoya, F. G., Zapata-Sierra, A., & Gil, C. (2013). Scientific production of renewable energies worldwide: An overview. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 18, 134–143.
Mats, L., Annika, S., Rafael, W., Alf, R., & Marcus, L. (2010). On the physics of power, energy and economics of renewable electric energy sources—Part I. Renewable Energy, 35, 1729–1734.
McKendry, P. (2002). Energy production from biomass (part 1): overview of biomass. Bioresource technology, 83, 37–46.
Mehmet, M. (2013). Vision 2023: Feasibility analysis of Turkey’s renewable energy projection. Renewable Energy, 50, 570–575.
Mehmet, Ç., Ali Osman, Y., & İbrahim, Ç. (2012). Present situation and potential role of renewable energy in Turkey. Renewable Energy, 46, 1–13.
Menegaki, A. N. (2012). A social marketing mix for renewable energy in Europe based on consumer stated preference surveys. Renewable Energy, 39, 30–39.
Mine, T., & Erhan, D. (2012). Renewable energy policy in Turkey with the new legal regulations. Renewable Energy, 39, 1–9.
Ming, Z., Chen, L., & Lisha, Z. (2013). Progress and prospective on the police system of renewable energy in China. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 20, 36–44.
Mohammed, Y. S., Mohd, W. M., Nouruddeen, B., Nor Asiah, M., & Ahmad, S. M. (2013a). Power sector renewable energy integration for expanding access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 25, 630–642.
Mohammed, Y. S., Mustafa, M. W., Bashir, N., & Mokhtar, A. S. (2013b). Renewable energy resources for distributed power generation in Nigeria: A review of the potential. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 22, 257–268.
Mohsen, B., & Payam, A. (2013). An overview of renewable energies in Iran. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 24, 198–208.
Mosher, J. N., & Corscadden, K. W. (2012). Agriculture’s contribution to the renewable energy sector: Policy and economics—Do they add up? Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 4157–4164.
Munawar, A. S. (2010). Energy and renewable energy scenario of Pakistan. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 14, 354–363.
Nigel, J. M., & Rice, J. L. (2012). Developing renewable energy supply in Queensland, Australia: A study of the barriers, targets, policies and actions. Renewable Energy, 44, 119–127.
Obaid, R. & Mufti, A. (2008). Present state, challenge, and future of power generation in Saudi Arabia. Proceedings IEEE Energy 2030, Atlanta, GA, 17–18 November, 2008.
Omar, K. M., Ouda, A. S., Al-Olabi, T., Younes, F., & Al-Waked, R. (2013). Review of domestic water conservation practices in Saudi Arabia. Applied Water Science, 3, 689–699.
Panwar, N. L., Kaushik, S. C., & Surendra, K. (2011). Role of renewable energy sources in environmental protection: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 1513–1524.
Patil, H. S. (2011) Experimental work on horizontal axis PVC turbine blade of power wind mill. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering, 2(2).
Payam, N., Abdul Kasir, M., Fatemeh, J., Hamid, B., Mohamad Saeed, V., & Abd. Majid, M. Z. (2013). Iran’s achievement s in renewable energy during fourth development program in comparison with global trend. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 22, 561–570.
Pranoto, E., & Jerry, C. (2012). Political aspects of innovation: Examining renewable energy in Australia. Renewable Energy, 38, 245–252.
Rahman, S. R., Al-Mahmud, N., Rahman, M., Hussain, M. Y., & Ali, M. S. (2013). Overview of Biomass Energy. International Journal of Engineering Research & Technology (IJERT), 2(11).
Rahman, F., Rehman, S., & Abdul-Majeed, M. A. (2012). Overview of energy storage systems for storing electricity from renewable energy sources in Saudi Arabia. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 274–283.
Rehman, S. (2005). Prospects of wind farm development in Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 30, 447–463.
Rehman, S. (2010). Saudi Arabian geothermal energy resources—an update. In Proceedings world geothermal congress. 25–29 April 2010.
Rehman, S., & Ahmad, A. (2004). Assessment of wind energy potential for coastal locations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Energy, 29, 1105–1115.
Rehman, S., & Al-Hadhrami, L. M. (2010). Study of a solar PV–diesel–battery hybrid power system for a remotely located population near Rafha. Saudi Arabia. Energy, 35, 4986–4995.
Rehman, S., Halawani, T. O., & Mohandes, M. (2003). Wind power cost assessment at twenty locations in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 28, 573–583.
Reiche, D. (2010). Energy policies of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries possibilities and limitations of ecological modernization in rentier states. Energy Policy, 38(5), 2395–2403.
Said, S. A. M., El-Amin, I. M., & Al-Shehri, A. M. (2004). Renewable energy potentials in Saudi Arabia. In: Beirut regional Collaboration Workshop on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technology. pp. 76–82.
Saleh, H. A. (2001). Life after oil: Solar energy research and applications in Saudi Arabia. Refocus, 2, 14–19.
Sayigh, A. A. M. (1988). Photovoltaic powered villages in Saudi Arabia. In: IEE Colloquium on energy for isolated communities. 18 May 1988, pp. 2/1–4.
Shaahid, S. M., & El-Amin, I. (2009). Techno-economic evaluation of off-grid hybrid photovoltaic–diesel–battery power systems for rural electrification in Saudi Arabia—a way forward for sustainable development. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13, 625–633.
Shaahid, S. M., El-Amin, I., Rehman, S., Al-Shehri, A., Ahmad, F., Bakashwain, J., et al. (2010). Techno-economic potential of retrofitting diesel power systems with hybrid wind-photovoltaic-diesel systems for off-grid electrification of remote villages of Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Green Energy, 7(6), 632–646.
Shaahid, S. M., & Elhadidy, M. A. (1994a). Wind and solar energy at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 1(4), 441–445.
Shaahid, S. M., & Elhadidy, M. A. (1994b). Wind and solar energy at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy., 4, 441–445.
Shaahid, S. M., & Elhadidy, M. A. (2008). Economic analysis of hybrid photovoltaic–diesel–battery power systems for residential loads in hot regions—a step to clean future. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 12, 488–503.
Shafiqur, R., & Ahmet, Z. S. (2012). Wind power utilization for water pumping using small wind turbines in Saudi Arabia: A techno-economical review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 4470–4478.
Simona, O. N., Floortje, A., & Marko, P. H. (2012). Why does renewable energy diffuse so slowly? A review of innovation system problems. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16, 3836–3846.
Sofia, E. C., & Carmen, N. C. (2013). An overview of the Romanian renewable energy sector. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 24, 149–158.
Taleb, H. M. (2009). Barriers hindering the utilisation of geothermal resources in Saudi Arabia. Energy for Sustainable Development, 13, 183–188.
Teske, S., & Schafer, O. (2007). Energy revolution: a sustainable world energy outlook. Renewable Energy World. http://www.renewable-energyworld.Com. Accessed 15 Mar 2007.
Tolón-Becerra, A., Lastra-Bravo, X., & Bienvenido-Bárcena, F. (2011a). Proposal for territorial distribution of the EU 2020 political renewable energy goal. Renewable Energy, 36, 2067–2077.
Tolón-Becerra, A., Lastra-Bravo, X. B., Steenberghen, T., & Debecker, B. (2011b). Current situation, trends and potential of renewable energy in Flanders. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 4400–4409.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division (2013), World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables.
Varun, R. P., & Inder, K. B. (2009). Energy, economics and environmental impacts of renewable energy systems. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13, 2716–2721.
United Nations; The Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA): http://www.escwa.un.org/popin/members/SaudiArabia.pdf.
Yoram, K. (2013). Cost and benefit of renewable energy in the European Union Original. Renewable Energy, 50, 68–73.
Zhang, P., Yang, Y., Shi, J., Zheng, Y., Wang, L., & Li, X. (2009). Opportunities and challenges for renewable energy policy in China. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13, 439–449.
Zhen, Z. Y., Jian, Z., George, Z., & Tian Tian, F. (2011). International cooperation on renewable energy development in China – A critical analysis. Renewable Energy, 36, 1105–1110.
Zuhairy, A. A., & Sayigh, A. A. M. (1995). Simulation and modeling of solar radiation in Saudi Arabia. Renewable Energy, 6(2), 107–118.
About this article
Cite this article
Tlili, I. Renewable energy in Saudi Arabia: current status and future potentials. Environ Dev Sustain 17, 859–886 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-014-9579-9
- Sustainable energy
- Energy efficiency
- Energy planning