UAE’s Masdar, EDF Energies lead bidding for Saudi solar plant

The winning bidders will build, own and operate the power plants in partnership with the government

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co (Masdar) and EDF Energies Nouvelles have submitted the lowest bid to build the first utility-scale solar plant in Saudi Arabia, results seen by Reuters show.

The 300-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) project is in Sakaka, the Al Jouf Province in the north of the kingdom.

The two companies submitted a joint bid for a levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of 6.69 halalas/KWH ($0.0178/KWH).

Saudi-based Acwa Power came second with 8.78 halalas/kwh. LCOE comprises the cost of generating a megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity; the upfront capital and development cost; the cost of equity and debt finance and operating and maintenance fees.

“All of the bids opened today [Tuesday] will now undergo stringent technical, financial and legal evaluation,” Turki al-Shehri, the head of the Energy Ministry’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) told Reuters in a statement.

He did not comment on the bids for the project, which he said would be awarded to the bidder with the lowest LCOE which meets all compliance criteria set out in the request for proposals, including a 30 per cent local content requirement.

The bid evaluation will be a three-month process, with a targeted power purchase agreement (PPA) effective day by January 27, he added.

“The LCOE quoted by the winning bidder will be the most accurate measure of the potential related to this project. The lowest bidder today is not guaranteed to be awarded the project,” said Shehri.

In April, Saudi Arabia kicked off the massive renewable programme in Riyadh by announcing the beginning of the bidding process for the Sakaka project, which is expected to come online by 2018-2019. The Sakaka project is estimated to cost around $300m.

The winning bidders will build, own and operate the power plants in partnership with the government.

The government plans to generate 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from renewable sources a year by 2023 through wind and solar projects, involving up to $50bn worth of investments.

The 9.5 GW target is expected to be exceeded, Shehri told Reuters in August, to highlight the kingdom’s long-term commitment to green energy.