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EQ’s Webinar: Saudi Arabia Rooftop Distributed Solar Market Opportunities & Challenges

EQ’s Webinar: Saudi Arabia Rooftop Distributed Solar Market Opportunities & Challenges


Powered by LONGi, EQ Magazine hosted a webinar on ‘Saudi Arabia Rooftop Distributed Solar Market Opportunities and Challenges’ on October 11, 2021. Speakers of the session discussed the topic, market and power consumption in Saudi Arabia, local manufacturing, pricing and more in detail. Middle East region blessed with huge energy sources including sun, holds huge opportunity and attraction or attention from the worldwide investors.

The panellists of the session included Kai Wei, Regional Sales Manager, ME, LONGi Solar; Stewart MacPherson, Business Development Director On-Grid KSA, Siraj Power; LK Verma, MD, Power-n-Sun; and Oskar Laupsa, Business Development Manager at Yellow Door Energy. The session was moderated by NabihCherradi, CTO Desert Technologies.
“A lot of houses in Saudi Arabia are using their own generator, and this is a good solution. The rooftop market is very interesting. However, there are some challenges regarding the way of deployment, choosing technology, financing and more,” said NabihCherradi, CTO Desert Technologies.

Kai Wei, Regional Sales Manager, ME, LONGi Solar, presented a brief introduction of the company and shared some ideas for the market of the Saudi Arabia region. “LONGi is recognized as the world’s leading solar technology company with the highest market value. Innovation and sustainable development are two of LONGi’s core values. LONGi is the world-leading mono silicon wafer manufacturer and leading solar module manufacturer. We have more than 30 offices and branches worldwide to provide the best products and services to our customers.”

He informed, by the end of 2020, the annual module production capacity is 50 GW. We have shipped 24.5 GW module capacity in 2020, which is a new milestone of the first solar company to exceed 24 GW annual shipment of PV modules. “The stability and reliability are two key features of LONGi. The company has maintained an industry-leading ability to mitigate risk and adapt to market changes giving priority to its financial and operational strengths. LONGi’s asset-liability ratio has been among the lowest across the global PV manufacturers showing a strong profitability and cost control ability.”

“With continuous strengthening of the company’s technology research and development levels, LONGi has demonstrated strong risk control and long-term sustainable development ability. LONGi has been rated 100 per cent bankable in BloombergNEF’s survey of PV Module and Inverter Bankability. In the PV Module Tech Bankability ratings, LONGi is ranked as the only AAA-rated manufacturer, based on numerous demanding criteria,” he said.

He further shared information on Saudi Arabia power consumption and clean energy target. “Commercial and industrial entities amount to just 36 per cent of the country’s power consumption. Power demand in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow significantly in coming years, as the government has ambitions for the country to become a regional manufacturing hub.”
“Saudi Arabia has set the region’s most ambitious clean energy target with a goal to add an additional 55.3 GW of clean energy build by 2030. 40 GW of the remaining gap should come from solar projects. Saudi Arabia is a promising market.”

Talking about the pricing strategy of LONGi in the rooftop market in Saudi Arabia, he said, “Saudi is a challenging market as the big EPC developed in Saudi look for the highest quality. According to the information, the price of the solar module may still be at a high level. The raw material prices have increased. For the coming year, things are going to be much better after the supply chain manufacturing problems are solved. I think we can expect the lower BOS cost.”

Saudi Arabia is looking to localize manufacturing, and they are looking to increase the percentage of local content. Sharing his views on localizing the production, he said that LONGi is always looking for an opportunity to localize the manufacturing in the Middle East. There are several factors that need consideration to proceed such as supply chain, trained staff, policies, local cost, etc. We can expect some progress in the coming year.”

Introducing his company, Stewart MacPherson, Business Development Director On-Grid KSA, Siraj Power, informed, “We are a developer for the solar commercial and industrial and solar leasing sector. We have done numerous projects within Dubai. With the changes and recent announcements over last year in Saudi Arabia, we are thinking of expanding into that market. We are establishing an entity in Saudi Arabia and launching our business development activities. The opportunity for the Saudi Arabia market to be much larger is certainly there.

He further talked about the challenges that need to be considered. “In order to maximize the financial benefits for our clients and ourselves, we want to ensure that most of the electricity which we generate is consumed on-site. There are a few challenges. We need to take into account the tariffs that we are competing with.

In Saudi Arabia, we are dealing with subsidized grid electricity prices. I suspect most of the companies involved in this space would be focused on the commercial usage of electricity at the moment.” He also spoke about the strategy to gain market share, expected pricing by 2022 and market development.

L.K. Verma, MD, Power-n-Sun, presented his view on the rooftop solar market in Saudi Arabia. Introducing his company, he said, “We are a wholesale distribution and solar integrated company, established in 2013. We have shipped more than 750 MW in this region so far. Our basic value addition in the industry is in two folds- the ease of transactions and usage of transactions. We work on a demand aggregation model. We have an in-house developed mechanism, where we capture the market demand on a real-time basis, create the projections, place orders on time and create delivery schedules which is country-specific.”

Speaking on the topic of rooftops, he highlighted the challenges. “The speed of the solarization in the country should be much higher than what it is today. This is one of the biggest challenges. Another major challenge is regarding the pricing and other related issues. With the fluctuations in the prices, product prices and the sea freights, etc., there is a big list of supply chain challenges that need immediate attention. Supply chain issues, especially towards the availability of a product and alignment of the product needs attention.

There are very few market building exercises that we have seen happening in Saudi Arabia on a real-time basis. Some collective efforts are required, especially towards building markets. Once the rooftop takes up, the growth multiplies. We have seen such growth happening in Dubai.”

He further spoke on the next trend in order to cope up with the shipment situation. “Shipment cost and availability have played an important role in last year.” He added that this challenge will definitely lead to the localisation of upcoming manufacturing facilities.

Oskar Laupsa, Business Development Manager at Yellow Door Energy, shared his insights on Saudi Arabia Rooftop. Introducing his company, he informed, “Our vision is to power emerging economies reliably, efficiently and sustainably. We currently have 120+ MW of commercial and industrial solar projects either commissioned or under construction.” He also informed me about the services and additional technologies offered by the company.

In his address, he further talked about the opportunities and challenges for solar in Saudi Arabia. Some of the challenges include harsh weather, lack of experienced solar contractors, the low tariff for industrial potential clients, affordable cost of Diesel and enforcement of net billing only for small scale systems. He said that the introduction of the net billing system is a good start. Focusing on the opportunities, he mentioned Vision 2030, Net Billing, Solar Leasing and Geography of Saudi Arabia. The webinar concluded with an interactive question and answer session.

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network