Saudi Arabia plans to harness the power of the wind for electricity, in a first for the oil-reliant kingdom.
Currently, less than 1 percent of Saudi Arabia's energy is renewable. But, the kingdom's Vision 2030 aims to change this, and Saudi Aramco is leading the way.
The state-owned oil company plans to launch the country's first wind turbine to provide power to its bulk plant in Turaif. Saudi Aramco is the world's largest producer of oil and gas, making the kingdom the largest exporter of oil on the planet.
The new turbine, developed in partnership with American corporation General Electric, will reduce the burning of diesel for power by some 18,600 barrels per year. It will generate 2.75 megawatts of power at its peak, which is said to be enough to power 250 Saudi homes.
"With the arrival of the first GE wind turbine in the Kingdom, we are demonstrating our strong commitment to support the aim of diversifying the energy mix," GE’s President and CEO for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain Hisham Albahkali said, according to Trade Arabia.
Saudi Aramco has been measuring wind in the kingdom since 2012 and said the results lead them to believe it is an "exceptional" resource. By 2023, Saudi Arabia plans to generate some 9,500 megawatts of electricity from wind and other renewable sources.
As global oil prices have plummeted, Saudi Arabia has seen the need to diversify it's economy and make serious reforms throughout the kingdom. Next year, experts predict the kingdom's economy will shrink for the first time since 1999.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman put forward Riyadh's ambitious Vision 2030 earlier this year. One of the plan's core goals is to diversify the kingdom's economy and reduce its dependence on oil.