EDF-Masdar group wins 400MW first Saudi wind tender

Saudi Arabia’s first utility-scale wind farm – the 400MW Dumat al-Jandal – will be built by a consortium of France’s EDF Renewables and Abu Dhabi clean energy group Masdar.

The EDF/Masdar bid was named winner of a tender that attracted four contenders to construct the project in the oil-rich kingdom’s northwestern al-Jouf province.

The Saudi energy ministry said in July last year that the EDF/Masdar bid had posted the lowest bid, equivalent to $21.20/MWh, but did not confirm a winner at that stage. Other bidders included Saudi Arabia’s own ACWA Power, Enel Green Power and Engie.

Dumat al-Jandal, which will reportedly be built at a cost of $500m, will receive a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Electricity Company. EDF will own 51% of the project with Masdar holding the rest.

EDF Renewables said: “We are delighted to be awarded this first wind project in the country, which is set to be the most powerful wind farm in the Middle East. This success reflects the quality of our partnership with Masdar which has enabled us to jointly submit the most competitive bid. Wind power is now representing a renewable and economical solution in the energy mix.”

The partners said work on the project will begin “within months”. No announcement was made regarding turbine supply to the wind farm.

The Dumat al-Jandal wind tender and a 300MW solar project awarded earlier in 2018 represent the only large-scale renewables procurement carried out so far by Saudi Arabia.

They form part of a wider renewable energy ambition officially pegged at 9.5GW by 2023.

Saudi Arabia’s renewables trajectory was in theory massively accelerated by the announcement of a monster 200GW-by-2030 solar alliance with Japanese developer Softbank. However, analysts cautioned at the time over how realistic deploying that scale of capacity would be.

News of the Saudi wind tender award comes as Middle East neighbour Abu Dhabi hosts politicians, and senior renewables officials and business leaders for a week of events beginning with the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), which opened today.

The Irena Assembly – which will decide on a successor to outgoing director general Adnan Amin – expects record ministerial attendance, and will launch reports on geopolitics and gender in relation to the energy transition.