undergroundnewsroom.com April 22, 2018

Saudis, SoftBank Announce World's Largest Solar Power Project

29 March 2018, 02:09 | Gordon Grant

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

SoftBank's Son says to create world's biggest solar power company in Saudi Arabia

The project is expected to build out all 200 gigawatts of the project by 2030, Masayoshi Sons said.

Saudi Arabia has signed a memorandum of understanding with Softbank Group to set up the world's largest solar project.

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

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

Vision Fund also plans investing 10 billion Dollars in state-controlled Saudi Electricity as part of efforts to diversify electricity production with renewable energy and solar power. At $93 billion it's not large enough to pay for the mammoth solar project, but it's thought the fund will contribute to some of its costs.

The fund, which was at $93 billion, reached its target after raising $7 billion from USA corporates and managers of the Vision Fund in the last few months, according to a source familiar with the fund. Mohammed is now touring the United States in an effort to woo foreign investment in the kingdom as part of his effort to transform and diversify the economy there.

According to Masayoshi, the project is likely to reduce power costs by $40 billion and create around 100,000 jobs.

From past 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.

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But some analyst voices were skeptical that the massive plan will necessarily emerge as it is now being described.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Son signed a memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund on Tuesday evening, which kick starts the process of forming a new power generation company. 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. Each park will have a 25-year power purchase agreement, a long-term contract to supply electric power to customers, which is common in the solar energy industry.

The scale of the planned expansion would be matched only by China, which already has more than 130GW of solar in place.

"We do see kind of a little bit of promise, at least in the short term, in this phase one that has been announced, there are some details around that, and the timeline is quite aggressive", he added. The Indian-born dealmaker, valued for his Silicon Valley connections and growth-company investments, spearheaded major offshore acquisitions for SoftBank. About two-thirds of this energy was generated by natural gas and the rest by oil. Doing so would free up more oil for exports, the kingdom's main source of revenue.

Industry estimates say around 300,000 to 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil are burned for Saudi power generation.

Environmentalists have long said the kingdom could turn to solar energy. Stay tuned for much more on this coming very soon. It's also trying to create a thriving startup scene at home.

The project is so big that it's expected to take more than a decade to finish.

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