Saudi power investment may exceed $133 bln over 10 years

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will

need to invest over 500 billion riyals ($133 billion) over the

next 10 years to meet rapidly rising power demand, Saudi Water

and Electricity Minister Abdullah al-Hussayen said late on

Sunday.

The country with the biggest Arab economy and a population

that has ballooned to over 27 million faces sporadic power cuts

in summer when demand for air conditioning surges.

"There is a need for projects over the next 10 years with

investments that exceed 500 billion riyals," Hussayen said at a

water and power forum.

Power consumption rose by 9 percent in the first half of

2012 from last year's figure, he said, adding that peak demand

in the summer was up 7 percent, or an increase of 3,500

megawatts.

In May, Saudi Arabia's deputy electricity minister revised

up estimates for the amount of investment needed in power

projects over the next decade to 400 billion riyals from 300

billion.

Saudi Arabia plans to generate some electricity from solar

and nuclear plants and is also considering wind, waste and

geothermal energy sources as it seeks to reduce reliance on oil

and gas.

How much of the kingdom's future energy mix will be met by

each technology may be agreed in the first quarter of next year,

Khalid al-Sulaiman, vice president for renewable energy at King

Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told the forum.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; editing by Daniel Fineren and Jane

Baird)

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