JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The Al-Afandi Group took a monumental step towards building the largest comprehensive fully-integrated commercial factory in the Middle East, to produce solar panels which will create a significant shift in solar energy usage to cover the biggest portion of electric energy production locally and regionally.
The group signed a property contract with the Royal Commission in Yanbu to build its state of the art factory on a 55,000 square meter premises for the first phase of the project.
Based on the laid out multiphase plans, the factory in phase one will be able to produce solar panels that generate 120 megawatts (or the equivalent of 450,000 solar panels) of required electricity yearly to meet the increasing demand for this renewable energy.
The contract was signed between the CEO of the Royal Commission in Yanbu, Dr. A’laa bin Abdullah Naseef, and the chairman of the board of Al-Afandi group, Shiekh Ibrahim Al-Afandi.
On this occasion, Majed Aldahawi, member of the board at Al-Afandi Group and Commercial Director, clarified that the company has been a pioneer in renewable energies since 1994 when it successfully exported solar PV panels to markets in Europe.
He also clarified that this initiative is synchronous with the inspirational “National Transformation” program. It will create a paradigm shift in the Saudi economy, as finding renewable sources of energy will support the national economy, and raising the level of local content, which the Group aims to provide through their factory, is one of the main precursors to and supporters of the economic cycle.
Al-Rasheed Alkibsy, business development director at the Al-Afandi Group, added that anyone can understand the reason behind the move towards solar energy in the Kingdom, which has the highest solar radiation levels in the world. So why not utilize this resource and lessen the total reliance we have on oil-fueled energy, thereby increasing the amount of oil-related exports and helping boost the local economy?
In response to the question of why the group chose Yanbu as the location for its new factory, Alkibsy clarified that the decision came after a study the Group began in 2012 found that the Royal Commission in Yanbu has the comprehensive infrastructure needed. Therefore the Group went into direct negotiations with officials at the Royal Commission. The Al-fandi Group have found complete cooperation from them, ease of operations and great encouragement to ensure the success of this promising project, since it also corresponds with the Commission’s goal of attracting new industry to the area. Furthermore, the manufacturing process for solar panels requires the highest standards of reliability, quality of electricity and processed water, which will be supplied within the Royal Commission by Marafiq as a key utility provider.
The steps and manufacturing procedure the factory will follow is a fully integrated production line to build the solar panels from scratch, Alkibsy clarified. Starting with the smelting of crude polysilicon to produce polycrystalline silicon ingots, these blocks are then sliced into very thin wafers, which are the main building blocks to creating solar cells, that then will be assembled into solar panels, which are framed and sealed with a protective glass cover.
The entire production line is fully automated and produces state of the art, repeatable quality products, designed especially for harsh weather and desert applications. The performance, reliability and energy yield of the solar panels will match the highest international standards and will be certified by international auditors for use in markets like the US and Europe.