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

Masayoshi Son chairman and chief executiveof Soft Bank Group shakes hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New York after signing an agreement for the huge solar project. Jeenah Moon  Bloomberg

The project seeks to develop and produce solar power in Saudi Arabia to generate electricity, therefore reducing reliance on oil.

A statement released past year in October by PIF revealed that a MoU had been signed to create the "Solar Energy Plan 2030" which would happen through the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC). 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. Saudi Arabia is also seeking a role in solar research and development.

Softbank plans to invest roughly 950-million dollars in the project.

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According to Softbank, the deal calls for building solar power plants in Saudi Arabia by 2030 for 200-billion dollars.

"The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision", Mr Son told reporters at a briefing.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, known for backing ambitious endeavors with flair, unveiled the project Tuesday in NY at a ceremony with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

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The deal deepens SoftBank's connections with Saudi Arabia and represents a step forward in the Prince's ambitions to diversify the economy.

The project will eventually generate 200 gigawatts of energy, far more than any existing solar project.

The solar panels for the project will be imported at first, but will later include a panel manufacturing and assembly site, according to Son. That's a boost for Prince Mohammed, who's been at the forefront of the Vision 2030 campaign to diversify the kingdom's economy away from oil by that year. Those efforts included investments of high-profile in technology including plans for a new city of $500 billion. Initially, there would be two large Saudi solar electricity generation projects, one with a capacity of 3 gigawatts and one at 4.2 gigawatts.

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Softbank has also raised over $93 billion for the Vision Fund, the world's largest private equity fund with backers including Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, Apple and Foxconn. The electricity demand in the country has grown by 9% a year since 2000.

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