Saudi Arabia eyeing geothermal energy for future energy mix
Under ambitious 10 GW renewable energy plans, the government of Saudi Arabia plans with geothermal energy projects being part of planned $50 billion investments.
At the recently held World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih, talked about plans for a total of around 10 GW in power generation capacity from a combination of solar, wind and geothermal projects to be installed in the country by 2023.
Under its renewable energy programme, the country expects to launch a first round of bidding for up to $50 billion worth of renewable energy projects. With it, Saudi Arabia is seeking to use non-oil means to generate much of its additional future energy needs, so Al Falih, who is also Chairman of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco). There are at least ten known hot springs in the country. Overall geothermal resources in the country are mostly located in the western region of Saudi Arabia.
The government does not only plan to encourage and support research, but also earmarks huge investments in renewables.
Analysis of available satellite images, geo-indicators and performing 2D electric geophysical survey had given experts a clue on Saudi Arabia’s geothermal reserve potential for possible energy production.
One study revealed the presence of many good geothermal “anomalies” in Jizan province, of which Al Khouba geothermal resource is considered the most important.
Researchers found good surface petro-thermal properties (high temperature, up to 78 °C and good flow rate) and subsurface characteristics — good vertical and lateral extensions — as well as potential thermal properties in these sites.
A good geothermal potential of 17,847 MWt is estimated for Al Khouba hot spring, providing a reservoir area of 1,125 km2.
The country first saw geothermal studies in 1980 and at least six geothermal springs have been identified with temperatures around 120 degrees Celsius.