The Sudair solar power project is a 1.5GW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm being built in the Riyadh province of Saudi Arabia. It will be the biggest solar power plant in the Kingdom, upon completion.
Sudair One Renewable Energy Company, a special purpose vehicle (SPV), is developing the project with an estimated investment of SAR3.4bn ($906m).
The consortium partners of the Sudair solar independent power project (IPP) include ACWA Power (35%), Water and Electricity Holding (Badeel, 35%), and Saudi Aramco Power Company (SAPCO, 30%).
Badeel is a portfolio company of the Public Investments Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia that also holds a 50% stake in ACWA Power, while SAPCO is a wholly-owned subsidiary of state-owned Saudi Aramco.
The Sudair solar project was launched during the inauguration ceremony of the 300MW Sakaka solar project in the Al Jouf province in April 2021, which is the first utility-scale solar power project in Saudi Arabia.
The project partners reached financial closure for the 1.5GW solar farm in August 2021. The project is expected to start generating electricity in 2022.
Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Programme (NREP) details
The Sudair solar power project is being developed in line with Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Programme (NREP) that aims to achieve 58.7GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. PIF has been entrusted by the Kingdom to provide for 70% of the target capacity.
At full capacity, the Sudair solar power plant is expected to generate enough electricity to power approximately 185,000 Saudi households and offset up to 2.9 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon emissions a year.
Sudair solar project location and site details
The Sudair PV solar power plant is being developed on a 30.2km2 site within the Sudair industrial city, approximately 150km away from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.
The project site lies approximately 25km south-east of Al Majmahh, in the Riyadh province of Saudi Arabia.
Sudair solar power plant make-up
The project will utilise bi-facial PV solar panels on pile-driven mounting structures. The solar panels will be equipped with tracking technology and an automatic robotic cleaning system.
Other key components of the project will include inverters, transformers, and an electrical substation for power transmission.
Other infrastructure facilities for the project include access roads, a control room, and an emergency diesel generator, and administration and office buildings.
A temporary construction compound is created and a temporary power connection is established from Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) to facilitate the construction works.
Power purchase agreement
The electricity generated by the Sudair solar power plant will be sold to Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in April 2021.
The Sudair PV solar IPP is being financed by Mizuho Bank, Korea Development Bank, Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), Al Rajhi Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank.
Hogan Lovells, an American-British law firm, advised the lenders on the financing of the project.
Bank Al Bilad, Saudi British Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) International are providing equity bridge facilities for the project.
Contractors involved in Saudi Arabia’s biggest solar power project
Larsen and Toubro (L&T), through the renewables arm of its Power Transmission and Distribution business, secured an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the Sudair solar power project in April 2021.
5 Capitals, an environmental and management consultancy based in the UAE, prepared the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report of the project in July 2021, while Wood Consulting carried out pre-development feasibility studies and prepared a preliminary ESIA along with the stakeholder engagement plan (SEP) of the project in 2019.
DNV, an independent energy expert and risk management specialist based in Norway, acted as technical consultants, while law firm White & Case provided legal advisory services to SPPC for the Sudair solar project.