Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/05/2014 -- BMI View: Our upbeat view of Saudi Arabia's power sector is predicated on our comparatively robust macroeconomic forecasts for the Kingdom as well as the fact it is advancing some of the Middle East's most ambitious power sector capacity expansion plans. With the Kingdom holding a fifth of the world's oil reserves, we emphasise that it is not only attempting to boost electricity generating capacity in order to service rapid growth in demand from its youthful and growing domestic population, but it is also attempting to expand and modify its power generation mix in order to guarantee that oil is prioritised for lucrative export for years to come. Ensuring that the kingdom maintains its outsized role in global oil production is essential to Saudi Arabia's energy policy and has resulted in concerted moves to utilise greater volumes of gas in power generation, as well as nuclear, renewables and the implementation of measures to enhance energy efficiency.
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Underscoring the need for a transition to a more sustainable energy mix, a reliance on energy-intensive extractive industries and poor levels of energy efficiency, as well as increased reliance on gas- and oil-fired desalination, have spurred Saudi Arabia to begin developing an energy efficiency master plan - with the Kingdom aiming to make energy efficiency savings that are equivalent to bringing 37GW of capacity online. In conjunction with the kingdom's ambitious plans to raise capacity and ensure renewables accounts for a third of electricity generation by 2032, we expect efforts to secure hydrocarbons for export to continue to determine the future composition of the domestic energy mix to the end of our forecast period.
Furthermore, we note that if the integration of diversified generation capacity can be achieved, it will enhance the kingdom's ability to absorb economic shocks to its oil-dependent economy and maintain spare capacity over a much longer timeframe.
As the country looks to preserve oil for lucrative export, we see the fuel progressively losing its primacy in the kingdom's power generation mix, with oil-fired generation set to decrease from a forecast 50.3% in 2013, to 43.9% in 2022. Conversely, gas-fired generation will continue to rise, reaching 216.6 terawatt hours (TWh) (or 51.7% of total generation) in 2022. This is, however, subject to the country's ability to source cheap domestic gas.
Key developments this quarter include:
- Saudi Arabia has the largest electricity generation expansion plans in the Middle East. It aims to increase generating capacity from the current level of around 55GW to 120GW by 2020. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia aims to replace 50% of its dependence on traditional fossil fuel with atomic and renewable energy by 2032.
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