Renewable energy in Saudi Arabia: current status and future potentials

Abstract

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.

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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

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Keywords

  • Sustainable energy
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy planning