Softbank, Saudi Arabia to work on solar power

Softbank, Saudi Arabia to work on solar power

Technology company SoftBank and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding to build world's largest solar power plant worth 200 billion Dollars.

Softbank is to invest in the project through its US$100 billion Softbank Vision Fund, created in 2016 with money from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and others.

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.

The deal is just the latest in a number of announcements from Saudi Arabia, promising to scale up its access to renewable energy. "We have great sunshine, land and great engineers and labour", Prince Mohammed told reporters in NY, as quoted by Bloomberg.

The project is expected to build out all 200 gigawatts of the project by 2030, Masayoshi Sons 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.

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 Indian-born dealmaker, valued for his Silicon Valley connections and growth-company investments, spearheaded major offshore acquisitions for SoftBank.

Son has been a critic of nuclear energy after the 2011 tsunami set off multiple meltdowns in Fukushima, northeastern Japan, the worst nuclear disaster since Chornobyl, and sees solar energy as a key part of his company strategy. He has also pushed a plan dubbed "Asia Super Grid", a plan to connect Asian nations by grids and undersea cables to distribute clean energy.

The project was projected to cost $200 billion through 2030. Unconfirmed reports emerged last year that the Japanese investment firm is planning to pump in over $25 billion over the next three to four years. Electricity demand in the country has risen by as much as 9 per cent a year since 2000, according to BNEF.