Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Ink Deal to Develop World’s Largest Solar Project

The $200 billion solar project is expected to produce up to 200 GW by 2030 and reduce the kingdom’s reliance on burning crude oil to generate electricity


Japanese telecom giant-turned-tech investor SoftBank has announced plans to invest in creating the world’s largest solar power project in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.

The project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 GW by 2030, SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son told Reuters. This would add to approximately 400 GW of globally installed solar power capacity and is comparable to the world’s total nuclear power capacity of around 390 GW at the end of 2016.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the SoftBank CEO for the development of the solar power project.

“The final investment total for the 200 GW of generation, including the solar panels, battery storage, and a manufacturing facility for panels in Saudi Arabia, will eventually total around $200 billion,” Son was quoted as saying.

“The initial phase of the project, for 7.2 GW of solar capacity, will cost $5 billion, with $1 billion coming from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and the rest from project financing,” Son added.

Speaking to Reuters, Son also said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which aims to reduce the country’s economic dependence on oil, was a good match for the fund’s long-term vision for innovation.

“These two visions have come together to create clean, sustainable, low-cost and productive renewable energy,” he said.

In January 2018, Mercom also reported that Saudi Arabia was planning to tender over 3 GW of grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) and 800 MW of wind projects to meet its increasing energy demands.

In August 2017, Mercom reported that Saudi Arabia intended to produce 10 percent of its power from renewable sources of energy in the next six years.

The drive toward renewable energy is likely to see the development of 30 solar and wind projects by 2023 to boost electricity generation and reduce the burning of crude oil. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is investing in solar power as part of an effort to reduce the amount of crude oil it currently uses to generate power and increase its overseas shipments.

The announcement comes as the Middle East is emerging as one of the largest renewable energy markets globally.

Image credit: Atlas Renewable Energy


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