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Start-up for $40m plant of solar cell material in Saudi Arabia

The Hail plant will generate EVA film that is used to produce cells for solar electricity generation

Commerical operations have started at Sipchem's ethylene vinyl acetate film plant in Saudi Arabia's Hail Industrial City [representational image].
© Pixabay / Olafpictures
Commerical operations have started at Sipchem's ethylene vinyl acetate film plant in Saudi Arabia's Hail Industrial City [representational image].

Saudi International Petrochemical Company’s (Sipchem) $40m (SAR150m) ethylene vinyl acetate film (EVA) plant in the kingdom’s Hail Industrial City has started commercial operations, a Saudi bourse filing has revealed.

According to a missive to Tadawul, performance tests at the facility – owned by Sipchem affiliate, Saudi Specialised Products Company – were completed successfully, thereby confirming the plant’s annual capacity of 4,000 metric tonnes of EVA film.

The project, which has a total estimated cost of $40m (SAR150m), is the first of its kind in the region and produces EVA film used in the manufacture of solar cells to generate electricity from solar energy.

READ: Saudi and UAE boost solar energy investments

Sipchem said the financial impact of full commercial operations, which officially began on 1 January, 2019, will be reflected in the firm’s financial results for Q1 2019.

The move comes amid well-publicised efforts by the kingdom to diversify its energy capabilities and, by extension, its economy away from fossil fuels such as oil.

April 2017 saw the launch of King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative, which aims to meet 10% of Saudi Arabia’s energy needs through renewable energy sources. Speaking at the scheme’s launch, Khalid Al-Falih, the Saudi energy minister, said most of the projects will focus on solar and wind in the first stage.

READ: Work starts on Saudi's Acwa-led inaugural solar project

The first renewable energy project under the scheme is the 300MW Saakaka PV IPP in Al Jouf. Its ground-breaking ceremony was overseen by HH King Salman bin Abdulaziz on 21 November, 2018, with Crown Prince HRH Mohammad Bin Salman also in attendance. Acwa Power, which is leading the project, said it expected the plant’s commercial operations to start in 2019.

Once operational, it will supply power to 45,000 households in Al Jouf, at the same time offsetting more than 430,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

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