Saudi Arabia is enhancing the capacity of its power sector (electricity generation, transmission, distribution, and smart grid) to meet increasing demand efficiently from residential and commercial consumers for electricity, and to support the diversification of its domestic energy mix. Saudi Arabia aspires to replace the petroleum currently used to generate 42 percent of the country’s 110-gigawatt daily electricity needs with a mix of 50 percent natural gas and 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. The Ministry of Energy’s spending on power and renewable energy projects is expected to reach $293 billion by 2030. Additionally, in December 2021 Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister announced the country’s plan to spend $38 billion in energy distribution by 2030. In March 2022, Saudi Arabia created the Saudi Nuclear Energy Holding Company to spearhead the country’s nuclear ambitions including developing nuclear facilities within the atomic industry.
Key Players in the Saudi Arabia Power Sector
- Ministry of Energy (MOE): The Ministry’s portfolio includes allocation of Saudi Arabia’s energy resources, electricity affairs, renewable energy, regulation of petroleum and gas, sustainability and climate change, and IT and digital transformation.
- National Renewable Energy Program (NREP): Operating under the Ministry of Energy, the NREP is a strategic initiative under Vision 2030 and the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative which aims to maximize the potential of renewable energy in Saudi Arabia.
- King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE): KACARE operates under the Ministry of Energy with a mandate to build a sustainable future for Saudi Arabia by developing a substantial alternative energy capacity fully supported by world-class local industries. It is overseeing the development of the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project.
- Saudi Electricity Company (SEC): SEC enjoys a monopoly on the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power in Saudi Arabia through 45 power generation plants.
- Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC): A government corporation that operates desalinization plants and power stations in Saudi Arabia. It is the second-largest electrical provider in the country.
- Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC): Previously an SEC subsidiary, the Saudi Arabian Government took charge of SPPC in 2021, licensing it to be the single buyer of electrical energy and capacity from generators within Saudi Arabia.
- Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA): ECRA regulates the electricity and water desalination sector in Saudi Arabia.
- Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO): Operating under the Ministry of Energy, REPDO was established in 2017 to deliver on the goals of the NREP. To this end, it works with KACARE, ECRA, and SEC to lead Saudi Arabia’s capabilities in renewable energy research, measurement, data acquisition, regulation, predevelopment, and tendering.
- Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC): SWPC is government-owned company that acts as an off taker to facilitate private sector participation in independent water and power projects.
- Saudi Aramco: This majority government-owned company manages Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas production, and is the primary supplier of feedstock for the country’s power generation.
- Power and Water Utility Company: A government-owned entity that currently provides most of the power to the industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu. King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST): A government institution that coordinates the activities of government institutions and scientific research centers.
- Tarshid National Energy Services Company: A government company established by the Public Investment Fund to develop, fund and manage impactful energy efficiency projects in government and commercial sectors that achieve significant energy savings for Saudi Arabia.
- Local Content & Government Procurement Authority (LCGPA): The Authority aims to formulate and monitor policies and regulations, develop local opportunities, promote transparency and leverage from the national purchasing power in partnership with the public and private sectors to grow local content in the national economy and improve the government procurement processes in Saudi Arabia.
Doing Business in the Saudi Arabia Power Sector
Although U.S. exporters are not required to appoint a local Saudi agent or distributor to sell to Saudi companies, it is strongly recommended that companies consider partnering with a local company for the purposes of monitoring business opportunities, navigating import and standard testing regulations, and identifying public sector sales and contract opportunities.
Saudi Arabia’s Procurement Law regulates all government procurement – including Ministry of Energy tenders. The Ministry of Finance is the overarching authority for the law and its implementation and administers the procurement portal, Etimad (www.etimad.sa), which serves as a centralized repository for all government tenders. While companies may find Ministry of Energy (including REPDO) and SWCC power-related tenders on the Etimad Portal, in practice these tenders still appear to be announced via separate Ministry of Energy, SWCC, and SPPC websites. Companies may register for and access Ministry of Energy and REPDO tender opportunities at the Ministry of Energy’s website. Currently, SPPC does not appear to offer an online procurement portal but, instead, posts project tenders on its website, inviting prospective bidders to express their interest via hardcopy and email submission to specified points of contact at SPPC.
For SEC opportunities, companies can register for and access tender announcements on the SEC website. For procurement opportunities with Saudi Aramco, visit the company’s website. U.S. companies may also contact Aramco Services Company in Houston, Texas to explore opportunities and to register as a vendor to Aramco.
To reduce oil consumption in the generation of power, Saudi Arabia plans to upgrade its entire power generation, distribution, and transmission sector. In addition, Saudi Arabia will develop over 58 GW of solar and wind power, and it will phase out all power stations that use petroleum and diesel. Saudi Arabia also plans to replace its outdated transmission and distribution infrastructure with smart grid technology and promote international grid connectivity. It is estimated that the country almost double its power generation capacity from 82 GW in 2018 to 160 GW by 2040. To achieve this goal, the government will invest approximately $5 billion in generation and $4 billion in distribution and transmission annually.
To achieve its renewable energy goals, the Ministry of Energy’s NREP and REPDO continue to rollout new initiatives – including the goal of privatizing all electricity generation by 2025. These newly-privatized power generation companies will require substantial investment to increase efficiency, meet environmental standards, and replace aging power plants.
Solar and Wind: The Ministry of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Program aims to substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix, targeting the generation of 27.3 GW of renewable energy from the previous 9.5GW target. To this end, it plans to develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next nine years as part of a $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut oil consumption. The new 2030 target will involve the development of 40GW of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity, 16GW of wind capacity and 2.7GW of concentrated solar power (CSP) capacity. The revised five-year target of 27.3GW is set to involve the development of 20GW of PV capacity, 7GW of wind capacity and 300MW of CSP. There will be increased demand for technologies to integrate this renewable energy into the national grid.
Smart Grid Distribution & Transmission: To improve its capacity to meet fluctuations in demand and optimize operating cost, Saudi Arabia continues to pursue opportunities to connect its grid with those of other countries in the region. In October 2021, Saudi Arabia and Egypt awarded contracts to connect the two nation’s power grids, in a project that could allow the countries to exchange as much as 3 GW of electrical capacity. Links with Turkey, Yemen, and the entire Arab region have also been discussed. Saudi Arabia is also investing billions to install smart meter technology. The Saudi Electric Company has been funding various projects to install 12 million smart meters by 2025.
Energy Efficiency: The Saudi Arabian government aims to eliminate energy subsidies by 2022, meaning higher electricity costs for consumers and increased demand for technologies, services, and products related to energy efficiency. The government is forming an energy service company (a “Super ESCO”) to implement projects in public facilities and support capacity building and project development activities of new private-sector ESCOs.
Nuclear: In 2018, WorleyParsons was appointed by KACARE as the Project Management Office (PMO) for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy program. The company previously completed the massive nuclear power plant site selection study for KACARE. That same year, KACARE announced that it had awarded a contract to Assystem, a French-based engineering services company, to carry out site characterization studies, including geological, seismic analyses, and environmental impact of the project on Saudi Arabia’s electricity grid. Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear project is planned to be a two-reactor plant with a capacity of about 1.2 to 1.6 GW. In 2019, the Saudi government approved the nuclear program proposed by KACARE.
- Ministry of Energy
- National Renewable Energy Program
- King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy
- Saudi Electricity Company
- Saline Water Conversion Corporation
- Saudi Power Procurement
- Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority
- Renewable Energy Project Development
- Saudi Water Partnership Company
- Saudi Aramco
- Power and Water Utility Company
- King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology
- Tarshid National Energy Services Company
- Local Content & Government Procurement Authority (LCGPA)
- United National Portal (UNP)
- Powergen International
- Distributech International
- Solar Power International
- Middle East Energy
For more information, contact: Mohammed.Shujauddin@trade.gov.