Analyzing and forecasting the Gulf Cooperation Council's geopolitical environment

Can Solar Energy Enable Saudi Arabia to Shine?

By Akhil Shah and Daniel Wagner
August 5, 2016

Since the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, and until recently, the kingdom had been the world’s leading oil producer. The Saudi government is aware that its oil reserves are being depleted, and that the current competitive market environment is placing greater pressure on the kingdom’s economy and foreign exchange reserves. Earlier this year, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) announced the launch of Vision 2030 — an ambitious set of reforms aimed at diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy and ending the kingdom’s “addiction” to oil. Solar energy and other renewable forms of energy (wind, wave, and geothermal) are important pillars of the National Transformational Program (NTP) and Vision 2030. Yet it remains to be seen how the Saudis will overcome some of the challenges related to expanding the country’s solar energy sector. 

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*Akhil Shah is a U.K.-based Middle East analyst. Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions and co-author of “Global Risk Agility and Decision Making”.