Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan world's largest solar project

Image Wikimedia Commons

It will reach its maximum capacity by 2030 and may cost close to $1 billion per gigawatt.

The project is so large, it will support the creation of a domestic solar equipment manufacturing industry in the kingdom, said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.

"We have just signed an MOU to create the world's biggest solar power generation project", said Son in New York Tuesday. "We have great sunshine, land and great engineers and labour", Prince Mohammed told reporters in NY, as quoted by Bloomberg. Initially, there would be two large Saudi solar electricity generation projects, one with a capacity of 3 gigawatts and one at 4.2 gigawatts. The solar park has to reach its maximum capacity by 2030 and may cost almost 1 billion United States dollars per gigawatt.

The fund, which was at $93 billion, reached its target after raising $7 billion from US corporates and managers of the Vision Fund in the last few months, according to a source familiar with the fund.

Son predicts that this project is going to create up to 100,000 jobs in the Kingdom and save it $40 billion in power costs.

Softbank plans to invest roughly 950-million dollars in the project.




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

Breaking news of the probe this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that a special panel set up by SoftBank's board has been looking at a shareholder campaign against Nikesh Arora, president under Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, and another executive.

Chase wrote about her skepticism on Twitter Wednesday: "Seriously, I've probably made more binding agreements to grab a coffee than that Saudi/ Softbank MoU for 200GW of solar by 2030". 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.

SoftBank's Son added that the electricity produced in the first phase will be sold and that would help financers to earn money for the forthcoming stages.

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

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