SoftBank and Saudi Arabia are creating a huge solar power generation project

The move illustrates the commitment by the de facto Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to transform the country's economic status quo. The world's top oil exporter is planning to significantly invest in renewable energy as demand for power leapfrogs.

The deal is the first major investment by the fund in Saudi Arabia. The project will cost $200 billion which will include solar panels, battery storage and a manufacturing facility for panels in Saudi Arabia. "It's bold, risky and we hope we succeed doing that". This should lead to a power generation capacity of 7.2 gigawatts in 2019, but the finished product in 2030 should be able to generate a massive 200 gigawatts. About two thirds of that is generated by natural gas, with the rest coming from oil. The push into solar power is part of Saudi Arabia's ongoing strategy to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

Son estimated the project would create over 100,000 new jobs and would save Saudi Arabia over $40 billion in costs to generate power. The solar park has to reach its maximum capacity by 2030 and may cost almost 1 billion United States dollars per gigawatt. "The Kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land, great laborers, and great engineers", "But most importantly it has the greatest vision", Son added.

Oil-rich - and sun-blessed - Saudi Arabia has pursued an increasingly ambitious renewables programme, including wind and solar tender rounds created to propel it to 9.5GW of renewable energy capacity by 2023.

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"SoftBank seeks investment and Saudi needs energy, so it may make sense to sort the financing out in a large block and then separately hammer out the phases and the technical details", said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF.

From previous year, Softbank is planning to work on several projects with Saudi Arabia which includes developing a new business "Neom" and industrial city in the country.

In May 2017, SoftBank Vision Fund gathered over $93 billion from a group of investors including Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, Mubadala Investment Company, Apple Inc. and Foxconn Technology Group.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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