Saudi Arabia May Become The Saudi Arabia Of Solar

I recall that adviser of the Mongolian President Tsagaan called for Mongolia to become “the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy” a couple of years ago. I also expected at the time that Saudi Arabia might be interested in getting there first.

Now there is a headline about the Saudi oil minister wanting to talk about solar energy at the OPEC meeting in Vienna. The minister thinks that in the future Saudi Arabia will export lots of electricity instead of oil.

If so, Mongolia still is in a favorable position when delivering to the massive Chinese market. That’s because the distance is much shorter. That matters much more for electricity than for oil.

But anyway, the point I would like to make:

A country can’t choose how much fossil fuel reserves it has. That is a lottery where Saudi Arabia just happened to draw one of the winning tickets.

But a country can choose if they want to end up importing or rather exporting energy fifty years from now. That question is decided by a race on renewable deployment.

If the Japanese stick to their glorious goal of covering a whopping 1.7 percent of electricity (not energy) demand from wind in 2030, they will need to import more energy than if they had a goal of 20 or 30 percent wind energy.

If the present German government sticks to their strategy of slowing down renewable development because they want to help coal stay longer in the market, Germany will end up importing more energy fifty years from now than if a government with the Green party involved had kept up the aggressive deployment.

This is a race not only about how much CO2 gets into the atmosphere before the last fossil fuel is burned. It is also a race on how the renewable resources are distributed.

It is a race on which countries get to be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy fifty years from now.

Both Germany and Japan don’t look like potential winners in this race.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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