A New World Leader in Solar Power
No, it’s not in China. What’s your next guess, the United States? Nope.
Saudi Arabia. Not only is it the country with the world’s largest supply of oil reserves, but it could be leading the world in solar energy production soon too. The country hopes to have 10% of its electricity come from the sun by the year 2020.
Located within the equatorial “sun belt,” an area where more sunlight radiation hits the earth than anywhere else, Saudi Arabia receives nearly 2,200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar thermal radiation per square meter of land, every day. Along with the abundant supply of sunlight, Saudi Arabia has a lot of open land space, and a fairly large amount of the natural elements needed to manufacture photovoltaic solar panels. Their most abundant of these elements being silicon, which can be found in the vast supply of desert sands.
Why the shift towards solar power for a country that dominates the oil market?
It is mostly economical, but there are social reasons too. Economically, Saudi Arabia would save money in the long-run (much like any country that uses renewables), by not submitting and relying on the rising prices of fossil fuels.
Another reason is social. Saudi Arabia’s population of 26 million is growing at a rate of 1.6% per year, and nearly 70% of the population is between 15 and 64. The country is roaring with young people, and Saudi Arabia has a very strict system of job allocation and education that has left many citizens unemployed and upset. The shift towards renewables could help spark new educational paths for young citizens, and open jobs for the many skilled unemployed seeking work.