First Published: 2018-03-28

Saudi Arabia, Japan's SoftBank partner for massive solar deal
SoftBank says multi-billion-dollar solar project in oil-rich kingdom could generate 200 gigawatts by 2030.
Middle East Online

The entire project cost is expected to run to $200 billion

TOKYO - Saudi Arabia and Japan's SoftBank will partner to develop a massive, multi-billion-dollar solar project in the kingdom that could generate 200 gigawatts by 2030, SoftBank said Wednesday.

The deal was signed on the sidelines of a US visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has undertaken a whirlwind of economic and social reforms in recent months.

SoftBank will invest in the project through its $100-billion SoftBank Vision Fund, created in 2016 with money from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and others.

The project aims to generate "200 gigawatts by 2030 from various (solar) farms all over the country, with a first phase of 7.2 gigawatts," SoftBank spokesman Matthew Nicholson said.

"Building will start this year," he added, with operations expected to start from 2019.

The entire project cost is expected to run to $200 billion, with the first phase costing $5 billion.

SoftBank's Vision Fund will provide $1 billion for the first phase, with the rest coming from project financing, Nicholson said.

Speaking to journalists in New York, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son described the solar plan as the "by far the largest solar project ever", according to video of the event distributed by Bloomberg.

He said the sale of electricity produced by the first phase of the project would help finance successor stages, and that while solar panels would initially be imported, a factory to produce them locally would be built in the kingdom in two or three years.

Last year, Saudi Arabia invited bids for a "utility-scale" 300-megawatt solar project, in a first for the world's top oil exporter.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies have been examining ways to cut their energy bills and diversify power sources away from oil, their main export commodity.

Riyadh has set a target of 9.5 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023.

Virtually all of Saudi Arabia's power currently comes from oil or natural gas.


Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Saudi women embrace sports headscarves

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Rebels set to leave new area outside Damascus

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister

Putin 'ready' for Trump summit

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen

Record of women candidates in Lebanon, but you can't tell from TV

Sudan protests to UN over Egypt voting in disputed area

Erdogan calls Turkey snap polls for June 24

Rights watchdog say African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen