Saudi Arabia, SoftBank Group Plan $200 Billion Solar Park
Saudi Arabia, SoftBank Group Plan $200 Billion Solar ParkSoftBank founder Masayoshi San (L) with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. (pic via Twitter)

SoftBank Group and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman yesterday (29 March) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a 200 Gigawatt (GW) $200 billion solar energy plant in Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg has reported.

The plant, which is expected to hit peak capacity only by 2030, is the largest such project ever announced, with the global solar power generation standing at about 100 GW till last year. The project will also create 100,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia.

The project comes as a part of the Saudi prince’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil. It is a huge boost for Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 drive to radically alter the traditional oil-fuelled economy to a modern one.

SoftBank has recently grown close to Saudi Arabia with the setting up of a tech fund totalling about $100 billion earlier. SoftBank also said that it plans to invest as much as $25 billion in Saudi Arabia in the next 3 to 4 years, with a $15 billion investment in the Saudi prince’s pet Neom city project.

The country currently produces 77 GW of electricity with most of it coming from natural gas and oil. However, it is seeking a move towards solar power given abundant free area and perennial and ample sunlight.

“The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision,” Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s founder said.

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