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Saudi Arabia Scales Back Renewable Energy Goal to Favor Gas

Wael Mahdi and Vivian Nereim, Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia is curtailing renewable-power targets as the world’s biggest oil exporter plans to use more natural gas, backing away from goals set when crude prices were about triple their current level, according to Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

So much for the Guardian’s habitual green hype

The kingdom aims to have power generation from renewable resources like the sun make up 10 percent of the energy mix, a reduction from an earlier target of 50 percent, Al-Falih said in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al-Falih provided new details of the country’s solar power program as he joined other ministers to announce parts of a plan adopted by the cabinet on Monday to overhaul the country’s economy.

“Our energy mix has shifted more toward gas, so the need for high targets from renewable sources isn’t there any more,” Al-Falih said. “The previous target of 50 percent from renewable sources was an initial target and it was built on high oil prices” near $150 a barrel, he said.

Burning Crude

Saudi Arabia, which holds the world’s second-largest crude reserves, will double natural gas production, according to Al-Falih, and the government will expand the distribution network to the western part of the nation. Generating more power from gas and renewables should make more crude available for export, which would otherwise be burned for electricity for domestic use.

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