SoftBank Inks Deal To Build World's Largest Solar Project In Saudi Arabia

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

Chief Executive Masayoshi Son announced Wednesday a US$200 billion solar power project in Saudi Arabia, which he described as "the world's biggest solar power generation".

The deal was signed in presence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is on a United States visit.

The deal is the latest in a number of eye-popping announcements from Saudi Arabia promising to scale up its access to renewables.

Softbank is to invest in the project through its US$100 billion Softbank Vision Fund, created in 2016 with money from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and others. "This is bold, risky and we hope to be successful", said Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud. It would in theory be fully built by 2030.

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.

As per the agreement, two solar plants with a capacity of 3 gigawatts and 4.2 gigawatts will be launched by 2019. "We have great sunshine, land and great engineers and labour", Prince Mohammed told reporters in NY, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

"Up until now, progress in building solar capacity in the kingdom has been very slow, but this deal might give it the kick start it needs".

The corresponding memorandum of intent was signed in NY by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son.

Mr Son, who is known as a savvy investor with a flair for the spotlight, has been promoting clean energy since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and recently completed a 50-megawatt wind power farm in Mongolia. 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.

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