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Saudia Arabia Exploring Alternative Energy Sources
January 26, 2011

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Saudi Arabia, the kingdom known for its vast oil reserves, is thinking green.

A statement from the Oil Ministry said that the government was looking into ways to get energy from a variety of sources, including nuclear, solar, and wind — all of which the kingdom hopes to be utilizing by 2020.

It's not a question of the oil running out. The government said it had 264 billion barrels of oil in reserve, enough to meet current demand for the next 80 years. However, demand is expected to increase, and so the kingdom is exploring new ways to generate electricity for itself, so it doesn't have to depend on oil, like the rest of the world. Specifically, demand now sits at about 3.2 million barrels a day. The Saudi government expects that figure to rise to 8 million barrels a day in 2028. That demand is both internal and external. The more energy the country can get from non-oil sources, the more oil would be available to sell to other countries.

Saudi government officials have been consulting with energy officials from Europe, Asia, and North America, focusing on ways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels without precipitously cutting energy use. Already under way is a pilot project to make better use of solar thermal energy. One more strategy being pursued is to convert existing power plants running only on oil or only on coal into multi-use facilities.

Oil is still by far the most-used source of energy, although many countries are experimenting with other technologies to try to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

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