By Charles Kennedy
Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad, and Islam’s holiest city, has plans to become the first city in Saudi Arabia to run completely on solar power.
The Saudi Arabian government has said that it will invest $109 billion to establish a strong solar industry across the nation. The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy program is the jewel in this crown, and aims to develop 41 gigawatts of solar capacity over the next 20 years. 25 gigawatts will be installed in the form of solar thermal plants, and the remaining 16 gigawatts will be supplied by photovoltaic panels.
Adnan Amin, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said that “Mecca’s program complements that work and may provide a guide for other Middle Eastern cities on how to adopt the technology.”
Osama al-Bar, the Mayor of Mecca, is waiting to receive bids from developers to construct and operate the solar power plants, and will make a decision as to the winner by the 5th of January next year. The city will need 385 gigawatt-hours of power each year and the whole project should be finished by 2018.