Planned project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts of energy by 2030
The Japanese conglomerate’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, told reporters on Tuesday that the planned project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) of energy by 2030.
According to Reuters, that would add to around 400GW of globally installed solar power capacity and is comparable to the world’s total nuclear power capacity of around 390GW as of the end of 2016.
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The deal will also fit into Saudi Arabia’s broader goal of diversifying economically and reducing its reliance on the often volatile oil industry – a programme it has dubbed Vision 2030.
The kingdom is one of the sunniest countries in the world but it is also the world’s biggest oil exporter. By tapping into the market for alternative sources of energy it will be able to increase its overseas shipments of oil.
Mr Son on Tuesday said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan was a good match for Softbank’s long-term innovation ambitions.
So far, the Vision Fund, which was set up in 2016, has channelled more than $27bn (£19bn) into around 20 tech firms, establishing Softbank as one of the world’s most influential technology investors.
Last May, Softbank – which is known in the UK for buying chip designer ARM in 2016 – raised more than $93bn for the Vision fund, which is the world’s largest private equity fund and is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and Apple.
Mr Son said that the panels used for the project will initially be imported. Later the project will include a panel manufacturing and assembly site of its own. Construction is due to start immediately and power generation will kick off at the beginning of next year.
Additional reporting by newswires