Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan world's largest solar project

SoftBank-Saudi-Arabia-to-create-World-Biggest-Solar-Power

Saudi Arabia wants to pour $200 billion into solar to build the world's largest solar project.

By 2030 the kingdom expects solar panels with a capacity of 200GW to roll out across the Saudi Arabia, which is more than triple the UK's total installed power capacity. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son revealed the project Tuesday in NY at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The first solar panels will be imported from an established manufacturer, Son said, but all the equipment for the project will be manufactured in Saudi Arabia after the first couple of years. 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.

"Up until now, progress in building solar capacity in the kingdom has been very slow, but this deal might give it the kick start it needs". The Crown Prince reportedly said, "It's a huge step in human history.It's bold, risky, and we hope we succeed doing that". "The Kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land, and great engineers, great neighbors, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision".

In 2015 SoftBank announced a plan to invest $20 billion in the Indian solar market with Foxconn and Bharti Enterprises.

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Industry estimates say around 300,000 to 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil are burnt for Saudi power generation. "It is worth noting that many of these memorandums of understanding do not result in anything happening".

One possibility would be using the proceeds from the Saudi Aramco IPO, which Saudi officials have repeatedly boasted would raise around $100 billion, although independent analysts question that figure. According to the statement, "The development of Saudi Arabia's solar energy sector is a core objective of Vision 2030, the Kingdom's blueprint for a modern and diversified economy". 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.

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. Mohammed is now touring the United States in an effort to woo foreign investment in the kingdom as part of his effort to transform and diversify the economy there.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) invested about $54 billion previous year according to data from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. The sale of about 5% of the oil giant Saudi Aramco is expected to provide additional funds. 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. It also didn't mention the challenges involved in scaling up logistics and manufacturing capacity in a country that had less than 50 megawatts of solar PV installed as of a year ago, less than Louisiana or Kyrgyzstan.

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