Saudi Arabia has shortlisted five of 15 domestic and international bidders to build two photovoltaic solar projects totaling more than $1 billion and 1,500 MW in the fourth round of auction under the country’s National Renewable Energy Program.

The projects increase the total awarded renewable energy projects under the program  to 11 GW, according to Saudi Power Procurement Co., which will purchase the power and manages bidding and development of renewable energy projects. It could not confirm when the successful bidders will be announced.

A consortium led by Chinese independent power producer and developer Jinko Power was shortlisted for the 400-MW Tabarjal solar PV project, located roughly 200 km west of the capital Riyadh. The consortium quoted a price of 1.7 US cents per kWh. Its other members are Sun Glare Holding Ltd and Sunlight Energy Holding.

UAE-based Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co (Masdar), in a consortium of France’s EDF Renouvelables SA and Saudi Arabia’s Nesma Co Ltd, also was shortlisted as second bidder for that project after quoting a price of 1.9 US cents per kWh.

Saudi Power Procurement has also shortlisted two consortia to develop the 1,100-MW Al Henakiyah solar PV project, 577 km west of Riyadh. The Masdar group has quoted the lowest price of 1.68 US cents ahead of the Jinko Power-led consortium’s 1.71 US cents per kWh. 

The shortlisting of bidders for the latest solar PV round comes nearly nine months since Saudi Power Procurement floated a request for proposals for the fourth auction of the  projects in December 2022.

They are 100% owned by the independent power producers and are backed by 25-year power purchase agreements with Saudi Power Procurement. Earlier, it concluded contracts for round three of the auction for four other solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 1,200 MW.

France's TotalEnergies leads a consortium of Japan's Toyota Tsusho and Saudi Arabia's Altaaqa Renewable Energy (Zahid Group) that won the contract for the construction of the 1,19-MW Wadi Ad-Dawasir solar PV project. The consortium will finance, own and operate the solar PV plant located 500 km southwest of Riyadh.

TotalEnergies confirmed in June a financial close for the project that is being financed by APICORP and Riyadh Bank. China’s SEPCO company is set to launch construction of the power plant in the first quarter of 2025.

Contracts for the three solar PV projects were awarded during the third round of auction, including the 91-MW Layla power plant to Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and the 700-MW Al-Rass solar project to a consortium of ACWA Power, Huanghe Hydropower Development Co. and Water and Electricity Holding Co.

For the Saad solar project, Saudi Power Procurement awarded the contract to Jinko Power Middle East and Jinko Power Dhafta Holding.

Saudi Arabia says it plans to move its domestic power mix away from oil and ramp up renewable energy generation to at least 50% by 2030, under its Vision 2030 strategy,