Could Saudi Arabia, the country that epitomizes oil, more than anyone else, become a solar energy powerhouse? The kingdom says it has a goal to install enough solar technologies to generate a capacity of 41 gigawatts of power by 2032. Most energy will come from solar thermal plants; the rest via photovoltaic panels.

Here’s what a Triple Pundit guest writer had to say about the $109 billion initiative:
This recent push for solar energy is also a run toward creating a sustainable solar energy sector that will help drive domestic energy. Not only does this mean eventually saving roughly 520,000 barrels of oil per day over the next two decades; it means more governments are starting to take alternatives seriously. If the end goal of 41 GW capacity is ever met, it would launch Saudi Arabia toward the top of the solar power generating countries.

Here’s what Mat McDermott of Treehugger thought last week:

Better late to the game than missing it entirely. And if the jobs are like a good amount of other jobs in the Kingdom, they well may be filled by essentially migrant workers from South Asia, rather than native Saudis.

This is the reality: Saudi Arabia and other GCC states like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, if they truly thought long term, would generate as much solar and clean energy plants as possible. True, they can afford it. But more importantly, as oil and gas surge in price, it makes more sense for them to export more of it abroad rather than having their citizens and expats waste it at home. There is nothing altruistic here--this is good, smart long-term business sense. And the development of solar could also benefit the world as new innovations come through the pipeline. The ramping up of solar would also help build a knowledge economy in the region, which is severely lacking. The world’s patents are generated in North America, Europe and East Asia, not the Middle East. But that could change. The world could be cleaner and safer in the long run. And the Gulf region could drive the rest of us mad if it turns out that this region, of all regions, helps wean us off of fossil fuels. Irony is beautiful.

So what if the KSA, Qatar, and the UAE are passing along their carbon emissions to the rest of the world? That is what the U.S., Europe and East Asia does with their factories and technology centers in China and India.

I also covered this development on Inhabitat yesterday.

Photo of Mecca courtesy Wikipedia.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.