Economy

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan world's largest solar project

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan world's largest solar project

Japanese investment giant Softbank has teamed up with Saudi Arabia to build the world's largest solar power generation project, jointly ploughing in $200bn by 2030.

The growth of the solar industry is expected to create 100,000 jobs and increase Saudi gross domestic product by $12 billion. The powerful heir to the throne of the world's largest crude exporter is seeking to diversify the economy and wean off a dependence on oil.

In light of this new agreement, a new solar company will be established to start-up two solar plants with a capacity to generate 3 gigawatts and 4.2 gigawatts. The development will reach its maximum capacity by 2030 and may cost close to US$1 billion a gigawatt, he said.

The announcement could boost confidence in the crown prince's efforts to attract billions in foreign investment during his US tour after the unprecedented arrest of hundreds of top figures in Saudi Arabia, including prices, business moguls and military officers past year.

"It's a huge step in human history", Prince Mohammed said.

The Saudi investment is Softbank's second major global solar project. Although the kingdom has been endeavoring to enter the clean energy sector for years, it started working on the first projects only in 2017, gathering offers for a 300-megawatt plant in October. With a $45 billion investment, it is the largest investor in SoftBank's Vision Fund.

Son said the ample sunshine and land, as well as engineers and workers, make the foray into solar there lucrative. SoftBank is said to have aimed to deploy as much as US$15 billion in a new city called Neom, which the crown prince plans to build on the Red Sea coast.

The kingdom's deal-making has quickened as it pursues Prince Mohammed's diversification goals. He established the Vision Fund, which, in conjunction with the Delta Fund set up to invest in Chinese ride-sharing firm Didi Chuxing, has funneled $27.5 billion into 20 tech firms as at the end of December.


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