Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan world's largest solar project

Javier Stokes
March 29, 2018

By 2030 the collaboration could yield 200GW of generation capacity.

"This kind of a project would never have been feasible without the big vision we shared with the crown prince", Son told reporters.

Speaking to journalists in New York, Softbank chief executive officer Masayoshi Son described the solar plan as the "by far the largest solar project ever", according to video of the event distributed by Bloomberg.

The project is also expected to create an estimated 100,000 jobs, with $12 billion added to the GDP and around $40 billion cut from power costs annually.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has a penchant for backing ambitious projects and the latest project to win his stamp of approval is what's billed as the "world's largest solar farm".

"You have never seen something of this scale", he is reported as saying.

The Vision Fund has funnelled $27.5 billion into 20 tech firms as of the end of December, transforming SoftBank from a Japanese telecoms upstart into one of the world's biggest technology investors.

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By the numbers: now, the biggest planned solar facilities promise to generate up to 2 gigawatts of power.

Part of the investment will come from Softbank's $93bn Vision Fund, the largest ever private equity fund of which Saudi Arabia is the largest backer.

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.

Saudi's government has been attempting to wean the kingdom off its oil addiction and diversify its economy into different areas.

The announcement happened during the NY leg of Prince Mohammed's trip across the United States. SoftBank's Vision Fund will give $1 billion for the first phase.

"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 Public Investment Fund (PIF) invested about $54 billion a year ago according to data from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. The fund is now closed.

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