Saudis, SoftBank Announce World's Largest Solar Power Project

Saudis, SoftBank Announce World's Largest Solar Power Project

Saudis, SoftBank Announce World's Largest Solar Power Project

If it is built, the solar park will increase almost three times the capacity of Saudi Arabia to produce electricity, reaching 77 gigawatts in 2016.

The development would start this year with a $1 billion investment from the joint Saudi-SoftBank Vision Fund, said Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank.

Costing $200 billion, the facility would generate 200 gigawatts of power-about 100 times more than any other planned solar plant.

"You have never seen something of this scale", he is reported as saying. The fund has already invested in companies in the U.S., India and Europe.

A statement released previous year in October by PIF revealed that a MoU had been signed to create the "Solar Energy Plan 2030" which would happen through the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC). "Saudi Arabia is targeting 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023, to be achieved through projects created to localize the renewable energy value chain".

Son estimated the project would create over 100,000 new jobs and would save Saudi Arabia over $40 billion in costs to generate power.

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 is clearly preparing for a post-fossil fuel dependent economy in terms of domestic energy consumption, and this huge bet on renewables would free up a lot of domestic output of oil for exports, while probably saving domestic gas resources as well", said Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit in Singapore. The announcement took place during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's trip across the United States. The kingdom's sovereign wealth fund has reportedly committed $45 billion to the massive technology investment vehicle, which counts Uber, Nvidia and WeWork among its largest investments.

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