Look! Saudi Arabia & SoftBank Plan World's Largest Solar Project

by Frankie Norman March 29, 2018, 1:19
Look! Saudi Arabia & SoftBank Plan World's Largest Solar Project

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp have joined hands to build the world's largest solar project worth $200 billion in the kingdom that could generate 200 gigawatts by 2030.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, known for backing ambitious endeavors with flair, unveiled the project Tuesday in NY at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The deal announced Wednesday is the first major one in Saudi Arabia. Project finance will be sought for the remainder. "It's a great step and is bold, risky". If the farm is built, it would nearly triple Saudi Arabia's electricity generation capacity two-thirds of which is now accounted for by natural gas and the rest by oil. About two-thirds of this energy was generated by natural gas and the rest by oil.

Son has been a critic of nuclear energy after the 2011 tsunami set off multiple meltdowns in Fukushima, northeastern Japan, the worst nuclear disaster since Chornobyl, and sees solar energy as a key part of his company strategy.

Mr Son said he envisions the project, which runs the gamut from power generation to panel and equipment manufacturing, will create as many as 100,000 jobs and shave US$40 billion off power costs.

Son said the ample sunshine and land, as well as engineers and workers, make the foray into solar there lucrative.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to diversify its oil-dependent economy by investing in alternative industries that provide a healthy return on investment.

"Building will start this year", he added, with operations expected to start from next year. SoftBank is said to have aimed to deploy as much as US$15 billion in a new city called Neom, which the crown prince plans to build on the Red Sea coast.

In a midnight press briefing in NY the Crown Prince said that the kingdom will match $1bn in financing put forward by SoftBank to begin the first phase of the project later this year which aims to develop 7.2GW of installed solar power by 2019 with the help of debt financing.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is the largest investor in Softbank's $100 billion Vision Fund.

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