Saudia Arabia and South Korea Join Forces for Solar Power

The $380 million deal indicates a commitment to clean energy–and to regional collaboration.

solar plant


Saudi Arabia and South Korea are ramping up their alternative energy production–and working together in the process. The two nations have united, as the Polysilicon Technology Company (PTC) has contracted South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and KCC Engineering and Construction Corporation to build a polysilicon plant on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Coast, enabling production of 3,350 metric tons of polysilicon, a material that turns sunlight into electricity.

As peak oil looms, Saudi Arabia has started to focus on alternative energy sources–earlier this month the country announced plans for its largest “solar park” ever and shortly after that it announced plans to request funds from the UN’s $100 billion climate change fund. Simultaneously, South Korea–in an attempt to “green” the country and reduce pollution–announced $7.18 billion in energy improvements leading to a full-blown smart grid.

“KCC is a very strong partner with tremendous technical and R&D capabilities and have great interests in investing in the kingdom,” said Walid Al-Shoaibi, chairman of the Saudi partner of the PTC, the Saudi Mutajadedah Energy Company (MEC). “They have existing polysilicon plants operating in Korea which will allow them to add significant value to the execution and operation of the project ensuring its success and timely start up.”

The project is scheduled to be complete by 2017 and could cost up to $1.5 billion. The two countries plan to to expand their collaboration in the future.

“The Polysilicon Project in Jubail is only our first step. PTC intends to expand the plant to an annual capacity of 12,000 metric tonnes as well as continue further downstream into the manufacturing of Ingot and Wafers” said Ibrahim Al-Humaidan, CEO of PTC.

Such collaborations may make Western leaders slightly uncomfortable, however, as a commitment to clean energy and engaging regional partners signals a step toward greater independence from the West.


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[Image via Alan Radecki]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.