Japan’s SoftBank to build world’s largest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia

Japan’s SoftBank to build world’s largest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signing a memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund.
Published: 28 March 2018 - 1:27 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

Saudi Arabia and Japanese telecom giant-turned-tech investor SoftBank have announced a new partnership to create the world’s biggest solar power generation company in Saudi Arabia

SoftBank Group Corp’s chief executive said on Tuesday that he has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia for the project.

Speaking in New York, Masayoshi Son said he expected the solar project to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts by 2030, reported Reuters.

According to a report by CNBC, the project is expected to $200bn.

The project, which runs the gamut from power generation to panel and equipment manufacturing, will help wean Saudi Arabia off its dependence on oil for electricity, create as many as 100,000 jobs and shave $40bn off power costs.

The project is so large, it will support the creation of a domestic solar equipment manufacturing industry in the kingdom, said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.

The announcement happened during the New York leg of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s trip across the United States.

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.

Last May, SoftBank announced it raised over $93bn for the Vision Fund, the world’s largest private equity fund with backers including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Apple and Foxconn.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, has reportedly committed $45bn to the massive technology investment vehicle, which counts Uber, Nvidia and WeWork among its largest investments.

Softbank intends to invest as much as $25 billion in the kingdom in the next few years, Bloomberg reported in November. Much of that money will go towards a new tech-focused city called NEOM announced by Prince Mohammed during an investment summit last fall, according to Bloomberg.

The company’s Vision Fund is also said to plan investments of as much as $10bn in state-controlled Saudi Electricity Co. as part of efforts to diversify the utility into renewables and solar energy, and SoftBank will also have some of its portfolio companies open offices in Neom.

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