Cleantechnica reports that Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, a main spokesman for Saudi Arabia, made a startling statement at the Global Economic Symposium in Brazil last week: his country intends to be 100% powered by renewable energy and other low-carbon energy forms.
The prince said he hopes to see this change take place within his lifetime, although he did say it may take longer since he is 67. Such a dramatic change would certainly take several decades.
Skeptics of the announcement dubbed it “greenwashing,” but the Saudi prince said the country is absolutely expanding its renewable energy investments and use of of nuclear power and other “undefined” alternatives to fossil fuels.
Saudi Arabia has over 100 major oil and gas fields within its borders; only Venezuela has larger proven oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. Roughly one-fifth of all of the conventional oil reserves in the world are Saudi.
The Saudi prince said that the country’s massive oil reserves would still be used around the world to produce plastics and polymers.
“Oil is more precious for us underground than as a fuel source,” Prince Turki said. “If we can get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels and use oil to produce other products that are useful, that would be very good for the world. I wish that may be in my lifetime, but I don’t think it will be.”
Because of the immense availability of oil and natural gas, energy prices are “artificially-low” with the country and energy use is quite high. But it’s already made progress on its renewable energy development; the prince said that solar power in particular has a lot of potential.
“The cost of solar energy is now 15% of what it was 20 years ago,” he said during the symposium.