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Riyadh, Softbank partner for US$200bn solar deal

29 March 2018, 02:08 | Melanie Burgess

Soft Bank Group Corp is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo

Soft Bank Group Corp is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo

If built, the farm would almost triple the country's electricity generation capacity, which stood at 77GW in 2016 and is comprised entirely of natural gas and oil.

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.

"Saudi Arabia generally releases big numbers on long time frames, which are then subject to revision, and Softbank likes to announce big numbers too", said Bloomberg New Energy Finance solar analyst Jenny Chase in an email.

The sale of about a 5 percent stake in oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co.is expected to provide more funds for investments.

A statement released a year ago 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).

By 2030 the collaboration could yield 200GW of generation capacity including energy storage and Saudi-based manufacturing for PV modules.

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The deal deepens SoftBank's ties with the world's largest crude exporter and advances the crown prince's ambition to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy.

Speaking about the possibilities offered by Saudi Arabia, Masayoshi said at the briefing, "The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labour, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision". That's about how long it's anticipated it will take to build out all 200 gigawatts of the project.

The solar power project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

The Saudi investment is Softbank's second major global solar project.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is on a three-week tour of the USA, his first visit since being designated the successor of his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. A factory unit is being planned in the kingdom to manufacture the panels locally.

Softbank plans to invest roughly 950-million dollars in the project. 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. The fund is now closed.



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