Economy

SoftBank and Saudi Arabia are creating a huge solar power generation project

SoftBank and Saudi Arabia are creating a huge solar power generation project

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. Project finance will be sought for the remainder. "It's bold, risky and we hope we succeed doing that", Prince Mohammed said late Tuesday night as he left a press briefing at the Plaza Hotel. The project itself is expected to cost $100 billion with the capability to produce 200 gigawatts of renewable energy.

The announcement could boost confidence in the crown prince's efforts to attract billions in foreign investment during his USA tour after the unprecedented arrest of hundreds of top figures in Saudi Arabia, including prices, business moguls and military officers a year ago.

Virtually all of Saudi Arabia's power comes from oil or natural gas. There are now only a few small solar power projects in the country. The plant should reach its maximum capacity by 2030, it could cost up to a billion dollars per gigawatts overall and will allow a cost saving of the estimated energy of 40 billion dollars, generating up to 100 thousand jobs.

The project is another high profile investment for SoftBank Vision Fund, which has become an aggressive player in the venture capital space since it was founded two years ago.

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Mr Son, who is known as a savvy investor with a flair for the spotlight, has been promoting clean energy since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and recently completed a 50-megawatt wind power farm in Mongolia.

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.

The sale of about a 5 percent stake in oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co.is expected to provide more funds for investments. He predicted that the project would add as much as $12 billion to the gross national product of Saudi Arabia.

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