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Saudi Arabia Will Invite Bids for Renewable Energy Projects in April

Saudi Arabia's Minerals CitySaudi Arabia's Minerals City
Electric pylons stretch across the desert from the Ras Al Khair Industrial City, operated by the Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma'aden), in Ras Al Khair, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia will invite international and domestic companies to bid for renewable energy projects in April, the energy minister said on Wednesday, adding that he expected to award the deals in September.

Energy minister Khalid al-Falih, speaking at a news conference in Riyadh said the projects would include two new solar and wind power plants with a capacity to produce 700 megawatts of power.

The projects are part of a major renewable energy supply program which is expected to involve investments of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023.

“The terms on renewable contracts will be motivating,” Al-Falih said at the press conference, according to Bloomberg, “so that the cost of generating power from these renewable sources will be the lowest in the world.” He added that they would also be the largest-sized such projects in the Middle East, and would be the country’s first public-private partnership tender.

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As the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, Saudi Arabia has been trying to move away from its economic dependency on fossil fuels by investing in renewables and developing nuclear power, reports Bloomberg. Al-Falih said at the news conference that the country aims to generate up to 9.5 gigawatts of power from renewables by 2023.

The Saudi minister also praised the new U.S. administration on energy policy.

“President [Donald] Trump has policies which are good for the oil industry, and I think we have to acknowledge it,” Al-Falih was quoted as telling the BBC in an interview.

He added that he welcomed accelerating U.S. crude oil output, “as long as they grow in line with global energy demand.”

This story has been updated.