Sakaka solar project is a 300MW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm developed on a 6km² site near Sakaka, in the Al Jouf province of Saudi Arabia.

Sakaka Solar Energy Company (SSEC), a joint venture between ACWA Power (70%) and AlGihaz (30%), is the owner and developer of the project.

Being developed as part of the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative, it is the first utility-scale solar power project in Saudi Arabia.

Construction on the SAR1.2bn ($320m) solar farm was started in November 2018 and grid connection was achieved in November 2019. Pilot phase production is in progress, while commissioning is expected by the end of 2019.

The solar farm is expected to generate enough clean energy to power 75,000 households and offset 430,000t of CO­2 a year. It created approximately 400 jobs during the construction phase.

Sakaka Solar project background

Sakaka solar farm is the first independent power producer (IPP) project developed under the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) being executed by Saudi Arabia’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO).

NREP is Saudi Arabia’s flagship renewable energy program to increase renewable power generation capacity of the country, which is presently over-dependent on fossil fuels, in line with the country’s carbon reduction commitments.

The programme is being executed by the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources (MEIM) in support of the Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program (NTP) and Vision 2030.

The NREP targets to generate 3.45GW of renewable energy by 2020 under the National Transformation Program (NTP) and 9.5GW of carbon-free power generation by 2023, as part of the Vision 2030.

REPDO awarded a joint venture led by ACWA Power to build, own, and operate the Sakaka solar farm at a tariff as low as $0.0234/kWh, in February 2018. SSEC achieved financial closure for the project in November 2018.

Financing for the Sakaka solar project

Natixis, a French corporate and investment bank, acted as the Initial Mandated Lead Arranger for the project, while Arab National Bank agreed to provide an equity bridge loan for the project.

Power purchase agreements

Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) signed a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Sakaka Solar Energy Company in February 2018.

Contractors involved in Sakaka solar project

A consortium of Mahindra Susten and Chint Solar (Zheijang) is responsible for the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of the solar farm.

Mahindra Susten, a subsidiary of Mahindra Group, is a solar EPC services company based in India, while Chint Solar (Zheijang) is a solar PV modules manufacturer based in China.

Huawei, a company based in China, was awarded the contract to supply its FusionSolar 1500V Smart PV Solution along with multi-MPPT string inverters for the Sakaka solar farm in February 2018.

Diaa Sakaka Operation and Maintenance Company, a subsidiary of First National Operations & Maintenance (NOMAC), was awarded the operation and maintenance contract for the solar farm in February 2018.