Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan 200GW solar build

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan 200GW solar build

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank plan 200GW solar build

In remarks made to reporters on March 27, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding to build the largest solar project in history.

The project have the capacity to produce 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

The development would start this year with a $1 billion investment from the joint Saudi-SoftBank Vision Fund, said Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank. The solar project is part of such efforts.

"You have never seen something of this scale", he is reported as saying. "This is bold, risky and we hope to be successful", said Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.

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By the numbers: now, the biggest planned solar facilities promise to generate up to 2 gigawatts of power.

The ample sunshine and land and Saudi Arabia's pool of engineers and skilled workers make the foray into solar there lucrative, Son said.

The 200 gigawatts of capacity announced Tuesday will be spread throughout the kingdom.

"Importantly, these projects will help create up to 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in 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 final investment total for the 200 GW of generation, including the solar panels, battery storage and a manufacturing facility for panels in Saudi Arabia, will eventually total around $200bn, Son said. About two-thirds of this energy was generated by natural gas and the rest by oil. "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. Each park will have a 25-year power purchase agreement, a long-term contract to supply electric power to customers, which is common in the solar energy industry. The sale of about 5% of the oil giant Saudi Aramco is expected to provide additional funds. 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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