Advance in Saudi Arabian solar power with SoftBank investment

SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund is to invest in the creation of the world’s biggest solar power project in Saudi Arabia, a country with an ambitious focus on the technology.

The project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 GW by 2030, SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son told reporters in New York. That would add to around 400 GW of globally installed solar power capacity and is comparable to the world’s total nuclear power capacity of around 390 GW as of the end of 2016.
Saudi Arabia geographic location
The kingdom is attempting to reduce its dependence on crude oil for power generation, part of its Vision 2030 reform plan.

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 $200bn.

The initial phase of the project, for 7.2 GW of solar capacity, will cost $5bn, with $1 billion coming from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and the rest from project financing, he said.

Saudi’s entire installed power capacity is currently around 60 GW. Adding 200 GW would create enormous excess capacity that could be exported to neighbours or used by industry, although the kingdom will still require other forms of power generation for night-time back-up.

Industry estimates say around 300,000 to 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil are burnt for Saudi power generation. Exporting that oil could increase Saudi’s annual oil revenues by between $7bn and $20bn, at the current price for oil of almost $70 per barrel.

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