SoftBank builds world's largest solar power plant

29 March, 2018, 02:08 | Author: Lora Ball
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The Softbank Vision Fund will begin a major investment partnership with Saudi Arabia that could see 200GW of solar generation capacity installed.

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

From past year, Softbank is planning to work on several projects with Saudi Arabia which includes developing a new business "Neom" and industrial city in the country.

The Japanese company's Vision Fund is also said to plan investments of as much as US$10 billion in state-controlled Saudi Electricity Co as part of efforts to diversify the utility into renewables and solar energy.

Speaking about the possibilities offered by Saudi Arabia, Masayoshi said at the briefing, "The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labour, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision". The sale of about a 5 per cent stake in oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co is expected to provide more funds. Saudi Arabia is also seeking a role in solar research and development.

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"This MOU and the sub-project coming out of it will enable the exportation of more oil", said the Saudi embassy statement. The current target is for it to be completed by 2030.

The project will eventually generate 200 gigawatts of energy, far more than any existing solar project.

"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. It is said that SoftBank aims to invest 15 billion Dollars in a new city, Neom, which the Prince plans to build on the Red Sea. The kingdom's sovereign wealth fund has reportedly committed $45 billion to the massive technology investment vehicle, which counts Uber, Nvidia and WeWork among its largest investments.

Major solar installations, like nuclear plants, could also help free up oil burned for electricity at home for export overseas - which might hint at one additional motivation for the agreement.

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