SoftBank, Saudi Arabia announce massive solar power project

29 March, 2018, 02:39 | Author: Judith Dennis
  • Softbank Saudi Arabia to work on solar power

SoftBank Group's Vision Fund will invest in creating the world's biggest solar power project in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported. That would be about 100 times larger than some of the largest projects in the world right now. SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son revealed the project Tuesday in NY at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The entire project cost is expected to run to US$200 billion, with the first phase costing US$5 billion. Sunshine is not a scarce resource.

Attia said that 200 gigawatts of solar would basically be enough to provide 95 percent of the country's current electricity needs, but since solar is only available during the day, it couldn't actually provide that much unless it was paired with massive battery installations. "But 200 GW by 2030 though, that's another question", Kiernan said. The Wall Street Journal reports that much of the project will be debt-financed. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which has more than US$224 billion in assets, spent about US$54 billion on investments past year.

The Vision Fund has funnelled $27.5 billion into 20 tech firms as of the end of December, transforming SoftBank from a Japanese telecoms upstart into one of the world's biggest technology investors. SoftBank's chief said electricity sales would generate the revenue needed for further expansion. "It will be step by step". Moreover, the potential of the IPO would be constrained if Aramco opted for a domestic-only listing rather than a public offering in London, New York or Hong Kong. Saudi Arabia's government has been the primary driver of these solar projects through its Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO).

The planned capacity of the enterprise is several times greater than that of any existing solar power plant.

The solar panels will be imported at first, but the project will later include a panel manufacturing site, according to Son. "It's bold, risky and we hope we succeed doing that". The country now gets the vast majority of its 77 gigawatts of generation capacity from oil and natural gas. The size is extraordinary, and is about triple the size of the total capacity that is either online, under construction, or being developed in all of the US right now.

Saudi Arabia also plans to build at least 16 nuclear reactors in the next 25 years at a cost of more than 80 billion Dollars. It seems unlikely that all of these investments will go forward.

Chase wrote about her skepticism on Twitter Wednesday: "Seriously, I've probably made more binding agreements to grab a coffee than that Saudi/ Softbank MoU for 200GW of solar by 2030".

"We do see kind of a little bit of promise, at least in the short term, in this phase one that has been announced, there are some details around that, and the timeline is quite aggressive", he added.

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