JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia’s first solar-powered gas station has just been opened in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The inauguration comes on the heels of the Kingdom’s switching on its drive towards solar power, kicked of in February with the Ministry of Energy’s announcement of a solar station in the city of Sakaka in the country’s north.
The project is the first of many within the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Renewable Energy Program.
Solar-powered gas stations have grown in popularity as environmental awareness continues to spread among communities. On top of being noiseless, solar power is also completely emissions-free. Renewable energy is highly environmentally friendly, since it helps significantly cut emissions spewed into the atmosphere and helps benevolent environmental investments.
"In line with the vision of our leadership, and with the support of our board, the Saudi energy market has become home to the first solar-powered gas station with the use of photoelectric panels," said Mamdouh Alrukhimi, Managing Director of NAFT, the gas station operating company that owns the solar-powered gas station.
One of the key aspects of the Kingdom Vision 2030, he adds, is to nationalize as much of the Kingdom's renewable energy value chain as possible, making solar power its new "Yellow petroleum," as he put it.
"The melding of fossil and renewable energy will show the world just how well these two resources can be exploited in unison, which is what NAFT is aiming for as it works to bring Kingdom Vision 2030 to reality."
As to how consumers are expected to feel about the new gas station, Alrukhimi said that people fully understand how solar power can clean out emissions from the atmosphere.
"The company will analyze the Saudi market's need for more solar applications and provide them as, where, and when needed," he said. "The Kingdom is the ideal place for solar energy projects that would be greatly beneficial for households, local manufacturers, and groundwater systems that are in increasing demand."
Naft built this pioneering project in collaboration with an Italian solar energy company, whose export manager, Massimo Favaron, said that 40 percent of gas stations in Italy are solar-powered.
"Many Italian and international providers of gas and petroleum products have begun to switch to photoelectric energy to power their supply stations, thanks to it being a sustainable, natural, and versatile source of energy," said Favaron.
Despite the Kingdom’s clear strengths in solar and wind energy, the official Vision 2030 website states, it has yet to have a competitive renewable energy sector. National energy consumption is expected to triple by 2030, which is why the Kingdom wants to add as much as 9.5 gigawatts if renewable energy to the national capacity by 2023 as a starting point. — SG