Saudi giga project NEOM will initially be powered by up to 50 percent grid-connected energy from non-renewable sources and the first renewable energy auctions for the futuristic development will come online next year, a senior official at NEOM told Zawya Projects on the sidelines of the Siemens Energy Week on Monday.

Thorsten Schwarz, Executive Director Grid Technology & Projects, NEOM said: “We are looking at the first auctions to come online next year. We are looking at private investors related to the electrolyser project announced between ACWA POWER, ENOWA and Air products recently alone to build 4.5 gigawatts of renewable power.”

The first utility energy deliveries are scheduled for 2024-25, he said.

“That means over the first years we have to work with all the resources of power that we can get. We are currently working with our partner National Grid (subsidiary of Saudi Electric Company) to strengthen the connections to bring power to NEOM. We will probably start at 50 percent renewable from day one and then venture into 100 percent by 2030 or earlier as possible,” he said.

Schwarz said NEOM is ahead of its time and expects to address several issues in the next couple of years.

“We are successfully working on resolving several challenges grid operators will have to face in a renewable era. NEOM expects to produce cost competitive power to supply its upcoming industries which means least possible asset base and least impact on nature. We hope to manage the volatility that comes with renewables better than others. We see quite a disruption coming up in NEOM,” he said, adding smart, adaptive, autonomous, and AI-based power system is the vision for NEOM.

In mid-June, NEOM had announced that its energy, water, and hydrogen subsidiary ENOWA had signed a MoU with Japan's ITOCHU, and France's Veolia to build a desalination plant powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

(Reporting by Sowmya Sundar; Editing by Anoop Menon)