(MENAFN - Arab News) Schools in remote areas, museums and wildlife protection projects in the Kingdom would soon be powered by solar energy generated by the Solar Village located in Al Oyeynah city, about 45 km from the country's capital.
Disclosing this, Abdul Rahman Al Oudeibi, assistant professor of solar energy research at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology's (KACST) Energy Research Institute, said the Solar Village, set up in an area of two million square meters about 30 years ago, would be converted into a city by the end of 2014.
Supply of solar power to schools in remote areas, museums and wildlife protection projects will be taken up after the village enters into agreements with the Ministry of Education, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities and the Saudi Wildlife Authority.
The solar project's initial objective, when it was established, was to provide electricity to villages around Riyadh city, before it recently became the first local and regional center for solar energy research and experimentation. Transforming the village into a city is in line with the Kingdom's aspirations to use solar energy and reduce dependence on oil-generated electricity. The Saudi-operated village is also used by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for solar readings, Al Qudeibi said in an interview to a local newspaper.
Currently, the desalination plant in Al-Kaafji city is producing 30,000 cubic meters of water daily using solar power produced in the village. Future plans include using solar energy in the desalination of 300,000 cubic meters of saline water, for which the capacity of the solar-panel factory would have to increase by 10 times. Along with the expansion, a special laboratory for standardizing panel specifications and improving its resistance to dust and humidity would also be launched.
The assistant professor noted that the architectural designs and technical specifications were completed for building a solar energy-powered desalination plants within King Abdullah's Initiative, while tenders for building another to produce 30,000 cubic meters f desalinated water daily will be invited soon. The plant will implement KACST-developed technologies and methods.
A production line for photovoltaic solar panels has been established at the KACST headquarters, while research is still underway to develop easy methods to produce solar cells using alternative high-absorption material, he added.