Saudis, SoftBank Announce World's Largest Solar Power Project

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, Saudi Arabia to create world's biggest solar power generation project

SoftBank Group Corp's Vision Fund will invest in creating the world's biggest solar power project in Saudi Arabia, the group announced on Tuesday.

"Saudi Arabia generally releases big numbers on long time frames, which are then subject to revision, and Softbank likes to announce big numbers too", said Bloomberg New Energy Finance solar analyst Jenny Chase in an email.

The project is in co-operation with the kingdom's young and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a partner in the SoftBank Vision Fund, set up in 2016.

The ample sunshine and land and Saudi Arabia's pool of engineers and skilled workers make the foray into solar there lucrative, Son said.

The project have the capacity to produce 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

The Saudi crown prince has been trying to wean the country off its addiction to oil and diversify the economy into new areas.

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Saudi Arabia also plans to build at least 16 nuclear reactors in the next 25 years at a cost of more than 80 billion United States dollars.

A statement released previous year in October by PIF revealed that a MoU had been signed to create the "Solar Energy Plan 2030" which would happen through the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC).

The solar panels for the project will be imported at first, but will later include a panel manufacturing and assembly site, according to Son. "Additionally, it will increase the GDP by 12 billion dollars and save up to 40 billion dollars annually", said the statement from the Saudi embassy in Washington. The Indian-born dealmaker, valued for his Silicon Valley connections and growth-company investments, spearheaded major offshore acquisitions for SoftBank.

The kingdom's deal-making has quickened as it pursues Prince Mohammed's diversification goals. The sale of about a 5 per cent stake in oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co is expected to provide more funds. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which has more than US$224 billion in assets, spent about US$54 billion on investments past year.

Saudi Arabia also plans to build at least 16 nuclear reactors over the next 25 years at a cost of more than US$80 billion. The electricity demand in the country has grown by 9% a year since 2000.

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