ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will launch in coming weeks a renewable energy program that is expected to involve investment of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday.
Falih, speaking at an energy industry event in Abu Dhabi, said Riyadh would in the next few weeks start the first round of bidding for projects under the program, which would produce 10 gigawatts of power.
In addition to that program, Riyadh is in the early stages of feasibility and design studies for its first two commercial nuclear reactors, which will total 2.8 gigawatts, he said.
"There will be significant investment in nuclear energy," Falih said.
Under an economic reform program launched last year, Saudi Arabia is seeking to use non-oil means to generate much of its additional future energy needs, to avoid running down oil resources which are required to generate foreign exchange through exports.
Falih said Saudi Arabia was working on ways to connect its renewable energy projects with Yemen, Jordan and Egypt. "We will connect to Africa to exchange non-fossil sources of energy," he said, without elaborating.
Its finances strained by low oil prices, Riyadh wants to conduct many of its future infrastructure projects through partnerships in which private companies from within the kingdom and abroad would bear much of the cost and risk.
(Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Stanley Carvalho; Writing by Andrew Torchia)