SoftBank Inks Deal To Build World's Largest Solar Project In Saudi Arabia

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.

"Saudi Arabia generally releases big numbers on long time frames, which are then subject to revision, and Softbank likes to announce big numbers too", said Bloomberg New Energy Finance solar analyst Jenny Chase in an email. 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.

From previous 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 Kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land, and great engineers, great neighbors, 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. Bloomberg reported that SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son unveiled the project in a ceremony with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, in NY on Tuesday, March 27.

The project cost will be around $200 billion.

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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 for its completion is 2030. "But 200 GW by 2030 though, that's another question", Kiernan said. The venture also plans to build centers for research and development and education and training, he said.

The project seeks to develop and produce solar power in Saudi Arabia to generate electricity, therefore reducing reliance on oil. Those efforts included investments of high-profile in technology including plans for a new city of $500 billion. 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.

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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