Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Plan World’s Largest Solar Project With $200 Billion

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The world’s largest crude exporter, Saudi Arabia and the Japanese investment giant, SoftBank Group Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding to build a $200 billion, world’s largest solar power project which is exponentially larger than any other project.

SoftBank is well known for its ostentatious deals that involve billions of dollars.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son unveiled the project in New York at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The project is expected to reach its full capacity of 2030 with 200 gigawatts which mean a gigawatt costs close to $ 1 billion. This project is 100 times larger than next proposed solar power plant, Solar Choice Bulli Creek PV in Australia with 2 gigawatts which is expected to start in 2023.

Masayoshi Son said that the project will create 1,00,000 jobs and increases Saudi Arabia’s electricity generation capacity by 3 times which $40 billion in power costs. Saudi Arabia is trying to diversify its economy beyond oil, the government awarded $302 million deal to ACWA power to build the country’s first utility-scale renewable energy plant.

The first installment of the project will cost around $ 5 billion which begins this year with 7.2 gigawatts of power in 2019. Initially, both sides will put up around $ 1 billion and rest is made up via debt financing. This was announced while Prince Mohammed was on a cross-country tour of US to attract foreign investments that help the country to get transformed into a tech-savvy and private-sector driven powerhouse.

Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Mr Son has become the outspoken advocate on the clean renewable energy. The company is also investing in many wind and solar energy projects including solar power farms across Japan and the most ambitious project Asia Super Grid. Mr Son also pledged to invest $ 20 billion in the solar power industry of India.

Other deals of Softbank in Saudi Arabia include the $ 93 billion tech investment fund which is backed by Softbank’s Vision Fund and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia also plans to build nearly 16 nuclear reactors in the coming 25 years costing more than $ 80 billion.