French utility giant EDF gets to the forefront of the Saudi energy market

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - The year 2022 marks a decade of growth for the EDF Group in Saudi Arabia. Active in the Kingdom since 2012, the group’s initial focus was on a single line of business for the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project, as announced by the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

In line with the Saudi Vision 2030 and EDF’s 2030 sustainability strategy, the group began to diversify its lines of business, a total of five, and expand in the Kingdom to support its sustainability and energy transition objectives beyond the civil nuclear program.

In 2017, the EDF Group, through EDF Renewables, participated in all public renewable energy tenders organized by the Saudi Ministry of Energy to develop utility-scale projects in the Kingdom.

In 2019, EDF was awarded the development of the largest and most powerful wind farm in the Middle East: the 400 megawatts Dumat Al Jandal Wind Farm. The fully operational project provides clean energy to more than 70,000 Saudi households. In 2021, the 300 MW South Jeddah Noor Solar Project had also been awarded to the French giant, positioning EDF as the first non-regional foreign investor within the Saudi renewable energy market.

EDF’s growth and development in the Kingdom were further strengthened in 2021 by establishing the regional headquarters of the group’s energy services arm, Dalkia Middle East, in Riyadh. The group is also expanding its operations within the Saudi low-carbon energy services sector to incorporate energy efficiency, district cooling networks, operations and maintenance, and exploring the geothermal energy potential in the Kingdom.

Dalkia Middle East is currently in the execution phase of the District Cooling Project, based on a design, build and operate model with the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Nonprofit City. In addition, the EDF subsidiary is actively involved in Tarshid’s Energy Efficiency Program and leading the operation and maintenance of the Kingdom Tower in Riyadh.




Dumat Al Jandal Wind Farm (Supplied)

As one of the leading operators of hydropower plants in the world, through EDF Hydro, the group firmly believes in the NEOM landscape and considers it to be the perfect location to utilize pumped storage hydropower. “We have completed pre-feasibility site selection studies in NEOM and are eager to provide further support and expand our cooperation with this ambitious city.

The EDF Group has, beyond the technical services provided by EDF Hydro for PSH, the ambition to invest in such assets in the Kingdom,” said Omar Aldaweesh, EDF general manager for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

From low-carbon energy generation to energy services for industrial clients, the EDF International Network, which represents the EDF-owned French Distribution Service Operator on the international scale, is currently executing a project management office contract with the Saudi Electricity Co. to support the digitalization of their distribution network in the Kingdom.

The EDF Group has empowered its subsidiaries and various divisions’ expansion in the Saudi market while maintaining its mandate concerning civil nuclear energy and other complex projects in the Kingdom.

Expansion projects

The EDF Group, alongside its partner MASDAR, is launching Emerge KSA, a 50 percent-owned joint venture between the two leading companies, with its ongoing pipeline, which will be officially established in the Kingdom by the end of 2022.

The JV, providing turnkey energy solutions, is currently active in the UAE to develop combined renewable power solutions alongside energy efficiency services within the commercial and industrial market, with major projects already in operation in Abu Dhabi.

“Emerge KSA has massive potential in Saudi Arabia, not only in the C&I market but in off-grid overall. We have seen many projects exceed dozens of MW capacity. The objective is to target more integrated solutions within Emerge KSA by enabling the hybridization of existing carbonized power systems,” said Aldaweesh.

The C&I market in the Kingdom is known to be the largest in the region, with various prospects presently under assessment by Emerge KSA.




Visit of global CEO, Jean Bernard Levy (Supplied)

EDF’s engagement across the Saudi energy value chain

The EDF’s “raison d’etre” aims to build a carbon-free future by generating clean electricity and offering innovative solutions to the global energy market. “The group’s targets are certainly in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 and the Saudi Green Initiative’s objectives,” said Aldaweesh.

“We are proud of our engagement throughout the entire Saudi energy value chain, from generation to end user, and our ever-expanding cooperation with the Saudi government in that regard,” he added.

Moreover, and with respect to low-carbon resources, the EDF Group is currently in discussion with the Saudi government on the development of geothermal energy and hydroelectricity in the Kingdom.

EDF is also exploring electrical network investments in the Kingdom, such as transmission and distribution.

The group is targeting opportunities for two of its main subsidiaries involved in smart city solutions: Urbanomy, for urban planning services to support the decarbonization of the Saudi real estate sector, and Citegestion, which has the expertise to provide city monitoring services that could be highly beneficial for projects under the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

Active in the global hydrogen value chain, EDF announced in April of 2022 a plan to develop 3 gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen projects worldwide by the end of the decade, derived from renewable or nuclear power. “We believe that Saudi Arabia offers the perfect ground to be a worldwide hydrogen player, and the group is eager to be part of the Kingdom’s vision on that front,” confirmed Aldaweesh.

Challenges and opportunities 

The current rise in oil prices does not seem to constitute a challenge. Aldaweesh believes there will be no impact on EDF’s activities in the Kingdom, as the Saudi government has already revealed its clear sustainability plans and will provide the necessary support to reach the set targets.

The first Saudi appointed general manager within EDF, added, “The group continues its commitment to support the decisive energy transition in Saudi Arabia, and we truly believe that we have merely begun scratching the surface in terms of our potential in the Kingdom, as well as our diverse wide-ranging capabilities which can position the EDF Group as an essential player in the Saudi energy sector.”

 

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