Everything you need to know about the Saudi-SoftBank solar power project

SoftBank's Son says to create world's biggest solar power company in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has signed a memorandum of understanding with Softbank Group to set up the world's largest solar project. If built, the development would nearly triple Saudi Arabia's electricity generation capacity, which stood at 77 gigawatts in 2016, according to BNEF data.

The SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, who is known for his ardent support for ambitious endeavors, presented the project at a ceremony in NY with the crowned Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.

The initiative will be backed by Softbank's Vision Fund technology investment vehicle, with a first 7.2GW phase costing $5bn, Son said.

"You have never seen something of this scale", he is reported as saying. The Saudi state-owned investment fund, which has assets over 224 billion Dollars, invested around 54 billion Dollars past year.

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.

Speaking about the possibilities offered by Saudi Arabia, Masayoshi said at the briefing, "The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labour, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision".

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.

He said the project will create 100,000 jobs, reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil for its electricity, which it can sell internationally instead.

To start $5 billion will be used as the initial investment, of which the Japan-based SoftBank fund will give $1 billion.

The project is consistent with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 - the Kingdom's long-term strategy to wean itself off oil revenues and diversify its economy. He predicted that the project would add as much as $12 billion to the gross national product of Saudi Arabia.

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