SoftBank, Saudi Arabia to create World's Biggest Solar Power Project

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has agreed to build the world’s biggest solar plant

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has agreed to build the world’s biggest solar plantBANDAR ALGALOUD GETTY IMAGES

Installation of the solar panels is planned to start this year, and the project should start producing electricity by the middle of next year.

The 200 gigawatts of capacity announced Tuesday will be spread throughout the kingdom. At $93 billion it's not large enough to pay for the mammoth solar project, but it's thought the fund will contribute to some of its costs. The project itself is expected to cost $100 billion with the capability to produce 200 gigawatts of renewable energy. "The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision", Son told reporters.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund are coming together to make this project a reality.

The news comes just as Saudia Arabia, home to the world's largest petroleum reserves, is also pursuing the construction of a pair of nuclear power reactors.

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The project will eventually generate 200 gigawatts of energy, far more than any existing solar project. The project is so huge that it will support the manufacturing kingdom, said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.

The deal deepens SoftBank's connections with Saudi Arabia and represents a step forward in the Prince's ambitions to diversify the economy. This is beneficial to Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, who created Vision 2030 to reduce the country's dependence on crude oil. Those efforts included investments of high-profile in technology including plans for a new city of $500 billion.

Vision Fund also plans investing 10 billion Dollars in state-controlled Saudi Electricity as part of efforts to diversify electricity production with renewable energy and solar power. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which has more than $224 billion in assets, spent about $54 billion on investments a year ago.

The project is in co-operation with the kingdom's young and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a partner in the SoftBank Vision Fund, set up in 2016. Electricity demand in the country has risen by as much as 9 per cent a year since 2000, according to BNEF.

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