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article imageSoftbank partners with Saudi Arabia on world's largest solar farm

By Karen Graham     Mar 29, 2018 in Business
New York - On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced it would partner with Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. to build the world's largest solar power project, a $200 billion venture.
The massive solar power project will be 100 times larger than any proposed project in the world and features plans to store electricity for use when the sun isn’t shining with the biggest utility-scale battery ever made.
According to Bloomberg News, the solar farm is expected to generate 100,000 jobs and produce 200 gigawatts of power by 2030, 100 times the next biggest planned project, the Solar Choice Bulli Creek PV Plant in Australia, which only aims to produce two gigawatts.
The solar farm is the latest effort by Saudi Arabia to increase its use of renewables and reduce the country's dependency on oil. And while the kingdom has had renewable energy on its agenda for some time, it was only last year that ministers implemented plans for its first projects, reports Engadget.
"It's a huge step in human history," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told Bloomberg. "It's bold, risky and we hope we succeed doing that."
"The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision," SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said of the new project.
Softbank Corp CEO Son speaks during a news conference in Tokyo
Softbank Corp CEO Son speaks during a news conference in Tokyo
� Yuya Shino / Reuters, Reuters
Softbank's Vision Fund
Tokyo, Japan-based Softbank also has a vision. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son spoke Tuesday before Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave a press conference to announce their $200 billion solar power generation project in New York.
Softbank has started the Vision Fund, with plans on being the largest shareholder in 100 technology companies around the world, according to Rajeev Misra, the fund's CEO. Misra told CNBC the fund will actively seek mergers among its investments, and those that don't merge will still work together through partnerships.
The Vision Fund's largest investments to date include Uber, ARM Holdings, Nvidia, and WeWork. The Vision Fund itself includes investments from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which has put in $45 billion. Other investors in the fund include UAE's Mubadala Investment Co., Apple, Foxconn, Qualcomm, and Sharp.
The fund has been at about $93 billion over the past few months, but according to a source familiar with the fund, it has raised another $7 billion from other U.S. companies.
The first phase of the Softbank-Saudi Arabia project will cost $5 billion, $1 billion of which will come from the Vision Fund. Son told reporters he thought the investment was worth it, though. "The project will fund its own expansion," he said.
More about softbank, Saudi Arabian, 200 GW of energy, vision fund, Solar farm
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