Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan 200GW solar build

29 March, 2018, 02:08 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • Soft Bank Group Corp is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo

If built, the farm would almost triple the country's electricity generation capacity, which stood at 77GW in 2016 and is comprised entirely of natural gas and oil.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, known for backing ambitious endeavors with flair, unveiled the project Tuesday in NY at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The sale of about 5% of the oil giant Saudi Aramco is expected to provide additional funds. While the kingdom has for years sought to get a foothold in clean energy, it's was only in 2017 that ministers moved forward with the first projects, collecting bids for a 300-megawatt plant in October.

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By 2030 the collaboration could yield 200GW of generation capacity including energy storage and Saudi-based manufacturing for PV modules.

Oil-rich - and sun-blessed - Saudi Arabia has pursued an increasingly ambitious renewables programme, including wind and solar tender rounds created to propel it to 9.5GW of renewable energy capacity by 2023. "The Kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land, and great engineers, great neighbors, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision". The venture also plans to build centers for research and development and education and training, he said. The remaining $10 billion could be in Saudi Electricity Company.

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

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is on a three-week tour of the United States, his first visit since being designated the successor of his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. 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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The fund, which was at $93 billion, reached its target after raising $7 billion from US corporates and managers of the Vision Fund in the last few months, according to a source familiar with the fund. "Additionally, it will increase the GDP by 12 billion dollars and save up to 40 billion dollars annually", said the statement from the Saudi embassy in Washington.

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