Softbank, Saudi Arabia to work on solar power

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.

The Softbank Vision Fund will begin a major investment partnership with Saudi Arabia that could see 200GW of solar generation capacity installed.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son revealed the project Tuesday in NY at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Although the kingdom has been endeavoring to enter the clean energy sector for years, it started working on the first projects only in 2017, gathering offers for a 300-megawatt plant in October.

SoftBank Group has launched an investigation into possible insider involvement in an effort to take down an heir apparent the Japanese technology giant had spent heavily to bring over.

The agreement deepens SoftBank's ties with the Saudi Arabia, and advances the crown prince's ambition to diversify its economy.

The project was projected to cost $200 billion through 2030.

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"The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision", Mr Son told reporters at a briefing. The venture also plans to build centers for research and development and education and training, he said.

The Crown Prince and the Softbank CEO said they expect the solar project to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts by 2030.

According to Masayoshi, the project is likely to reduce power costs by $40 billion and create around 100,000 jobs.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is on a three-week tour of the USA, his first visit since being designated the successor of his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. SoftBank was said to be planning to invest as much as US$25 billion in Saudi Arabia over the next three to four years.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) invested about $54 billion a year ago according to data from the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

In the past year, the kingdom has signed a series of agreements with USA and other foreign companies, but only a small number of deals have moved forward.

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