Saudi Arabia Plans the World’s Biggest Solar Venture

Saudia Arabia plans the world’s biggest solar venture, a move outlined on March 27, 2018, by Bloomberg Technology.  Bloomberg Technology reported online that Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a $200 billion solar power project that is estimated to add 100,000 jobs in the desert kingdom and save $40 billion in power costs.  Currently Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest crude exporter, but Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is working hard to diversify his country’s economy and increase its capacity for electricity generation using renewable resources.

At 200 gigawatts, the Softbank project once completed will be 100 times larger than the next biggest proposed development and a third more than what the global photovoltaic industry supplied worldwide last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  The development will reach its maximum capacity by 2030 and may cost close to $1 billion a gigawatt.  SoftBank is planning to invest as much as $25 billion in Saudi Arabia over the next three to four years.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has been promoting clean energy since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and recently completed a 50-megawatt wind power farm in Mongolia. He has also pushed a plan dubbed “Asia Super Grid,” a plan to connect Asian nations by grids and undersea cables to distribute clean energy.

The world’s biggest solar venture dwarfs other planned PV projects.  Consider the following solar projects in process around the globe:

Country                               Project                                              Planned Capacity                   Project Status

Saudi Arabia             SoftBank Solar Project                                      200GW                                 MOU Signed

Australia                   Solar Choice Bulli Creek PV Plant                      2GW                                    Announced

Greece                     Helios PV Plant Phase 1                                     2GW                                    Permitted

U.S.                          Capital Dynamics Nevada PV Portfolio              1.3GW                                 Under construction

U.A.E.                      Marubeni JinkoSolar/ADWEA PV Plant              1.18GW                               Under construction

China                       EverRich Energy Wuwei PV Plant                       1GW                                    Announced

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance; SoftBank

The US project in Nevada will be owned and developed by Capital Dynamics, the second largest owner of solar projects in the country,  The project will be built with American-made solar panels, utilizing Capital Dynamics’ existing project partnerships, and is projected to create 1,250 construction jobs at its peak of construction.

SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) reports that more than 26,000 MW of utility-scale solar power projects are under development in the U.S., enough to power more than 4.3 million households.