Saudi Arabia has cast light on its $200bn (£141bn) plans to cut its reliance on oil by rolling out the world's most ambitious solar power project through a deal with SoftBank.
The corresponding memorandum of intent was signed in NY by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. The powerful heir to the throne of the world's largest crude exporter is seeking to diversify the economy and wean off a dependence on oil.
The agreement will drive investment in a series of solar parks across the kingdom to be built by 2030, capable of generating enough power for 150 million homes.
The plants are expected to have a total capacity of 200 gigawatts - equivalent to that of about 200 nuclear reactors.
The deal is just the latest in a number of announcements from Saudi Arabia, promising to scale up its access to renewable energy. The Crown Prince reportedly said, "It's a huge step in human history.It's bold, risky, and we hope we succeed doing that". The Saudi state-owned investment fund, which has assets over 224 billion Dollars, invested around 54 billion Dollars past year.
The Saudi investment is Softbank's second major global solar project.
Son estimated the project would create over 100,000 new jobs and would save Saudi Arabia over $40 billion in costs to generate power.
Son said the ample sunshine and land, as well as engineers and workers, make the foray into solar there lucrative.
From a year ago, Softbank is planning to work on several projects with Saudi Arabia which includes developing a new business "Neom" and industrial city in the country. The money is to come from a 93-billion-dollar fund the firm set up a year ago with financial backers including Saudi Arabia. The sale of about a 5 per cent stake in oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co is expected to provide more funds. The electricity demand in the country has grown by 9% a year since 2000.
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