Japanese to build the world's largest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia

Posted March 29, 2018

Saudi Arabia and Japanese telecom giant-turned-tech investor SoftBank Group Corp. have expanded their partnership to create a massive solar power generation project.

The SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, who is known for his ardent support for ambitious endeavors, presented the project at a ceremony in NY with the crowned Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.

Softbank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reached the agreement in NY on Tuesday.

"You have never seen something of this scale", he is reported as saying.

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The cost of the two parks will be about $5 billion, with $1 billion coming from Softbank's Vision Fund and $4 billion from project financing.

The project is planned for the Saudi desert and at 200 gigawatts, it's going to be 100 times larger than the next biggest proposed solar farm.

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 $200 billion, Son said.

The fund, which was at $93 billion, reached its target after raising $7 billion from US corporates and managers of the Vision Fund in the last few months, according to a source familiar with the fund.

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"Building will start this year", he added, with operations expected to start from next year.

Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil. "The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision", Son told reporters. "Saudi Arabia is targeting 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023, to be achieved through projects created to localize the renewable energy value chain".

The remaining $10 billion could be in Saudi Electricity Company.

Last May, Softbank said it raised over $93 billion for the Vision Fund, the world's largest private equity fund with backers including Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, Apple Inc and Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry.

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Saudi Arabia also plans to build at least 16 nuclear reactors in the next 25 years at a cost of more than 80 billion United States dollars.