SoftBank, Saudi Arabia announce massive solar power project

Soft Bank Group Corp is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo

Part of the investment will come from Softbank's $93bn Vision Fund, the largest ever private equity fund of which Saudi Arabia is the largest backer.

The project remains in the early phases, and it is not yet guaranteed it will be built. The feasibility studies on this project will be completed by May 2018.

The project is in co-operation with the kingdom's young and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a partner in the SoftBank Vision Fund, set up in 2016. "But most importantly it has the greatest vision".

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. So, 200 gigawatts is huge.

By investing in solar power, Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, can reduce the amount of crude it now uses to generate power and increase its overseas shipments.

Son said revenues from early stage solar parks will help fund the construction of future projects in the kingdom. Electricity demand in the country has risen by as much as 9 per cent a year since 2000, according to BNEF.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has a penchant for backing ambitious projects and the latest project to win his stamp of approval is what's billed as the "world's largest solar farm".

The growth of the solar industry is expected to create 100,000 jobs and increase Saudi gross domestic product by $12 billion. The announcement took place during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's trip across the United States. It was announced in NY after a Saudi-U.S. CEO forum held on the sidelines of the crown prince's multi-day tour across the U.S.

It will cost $5 billion with $4 billion coming from financing and $1 billion from Softbank's Vision Fund. The fund is now closed.

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