Saturday, 15 October 2011

Farasan Island in The News

Farasan Island was in the news.  Saudi's first ever Solar Power Plant was opened there earlier this month.


Published: Oct 2, 2011 00:25 Updated: Oct 2, 2011 00:31

JEDDAH: Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Suwayed, undersecretary of Jazan governorate, on Saturday inaugurated the first solar energy plant in the Kingdom to generate electricity with a capacity of 500 kilowatts.

Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) established the plant in collaboration with Japanese Showa Shell. SEC's Chief Executive Officer Ali Saleh Al-Barrak, Saudi Aramco President Khalid Al-Falih and the Japanese Ambassador to the Kingdom Shigeru Endo attended the inauguration.

The establishment of the solar power plant comes in line with SEC's efforts to introduce clean energy and save the transfer of equivalent of 28,000 barrels of diesel to the Farasan Island, southwest Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia hopes to reduce its use of fossil fuels that it would rather export by building nuclear and renewable power plants. The Farasan project should reduce diesel burning for power generation on the island.

Under the agreement, Showa Shell will own the project for up to 15 years, after which the assets will be transferred to SEC. Royal Dutch Shell owns one-third of Showa Shell, while Saudi Aramco holds about 15 percent.

I did wonder when Saudi was going to go Solar given that almost every morning when I look out my window the sky is a clear and brilliant blue.  The heat attached goes without saying.

This latest news sent me on a search of Saudi's other solar projects - there are a few being investigated by KAUST (King Abdullah Universtiy of Science and Technology), one includes using the sun for Saudi's water supply as explained in this article from KAUST's media room.

Saudi needs to find alternative ways of powering the country.  The Powers That Be are well aware that, one day, the oil will run out and that the current use is non-sustainable.  Internet sources (that most reliable fact generating machine) gives Saudi's current rate of oil production at around 8million barrels a day, most of that sent out to all points of the globe.

According to Hubby, who had to do research on the subject for a client, of it's total oil production Saudi Arabia uses 1.5million barrels a day to run the country's electricity and for fuel (though other estimates say it's closer to 3million barrels).

The Powers That Be have kept electricity and water at very low rates for the population.  So low that the cost of producing both are far in excess of what the people pay.  For example, it costs 10SAR to produce one bottle of water sold for 1 SAR.  I failed maths horribly, but even I can tell that kind of commerce isn't going to keep you on the plus side when the natural resource runs out.  Increasing prices is definitely on the cards...though it must be done slowly or the people may revolt.

Of course, should the rest of the world reduce dependence on oil based products then Saudi will have a lot more to go around.

But even so, the oil is going to run out one day - estimates vary but around 90 years is the figure according to local gossip. 

Saudi should be applauded for facing this fact and actively researching other energy sources.  Using what shines from the sky every day was a no-brainer.  It's just a shame there's so much dust blowing around - it tends to mess solar power up, just a little.

Farasan Island was chosen because it has the highest sunshine hours in the country.  One hopes that the plant is not an eye sore on Farasan and one presumes that solar energy production does not produce pollution that will spoil the crystal clear waters surrounding the islands.  Aramco, being a very reputable organisation, will have kept these factors in mind I'm sure.

I had to chuckle when I heard that Farasan Islands was in the news for having the first Solar Power Plant in Saudi Arabia given that, on our trip to Farasan one year ago, there were parts of the islands that had only received electricity a year prior, now here they are producing megawattage.


  1. Great blog. Local gossip suggesting 90 years left for Saudi oil is wildly optimistic, huge domestic consumption for desalination plants, oil fired electricity generation plants to keep the air-con pumping and wasteful driving & drifting of cars will probably leave the Kingdom running out of their only resource within 20 years. When the peak comes and the people have to pay more than 20 SAR to fill their gas tanks up it might be time to pack up and live elsewhere.

    1. Then again, Saudization may have us all moved out long before the oil runs dry. Thanks for reading.

  2. That is particularly important in case you are exporting cars regarding very good worth, like luxurious status cars or perhaps traditional cars which can be generally of the larger worth compared to the "run on the mill" everyday cars. car exporters


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