Saudi Arabia to construct World's largest solar power plant

Saudi Arabia to construct World's largest solar power plant

RIYADH - Despite being one of the world’s sunniest countries, Saudi Arabia generates most of its electricity from oil-fired power plants.

Saudi Arabia and Japan's SoftBank have agreed to the joint construction of a multibillion-dollar solar power project in the sunshine-rich Gulf kingdom to meet Riyadh’s ambitious goal of lessening its reliance on oil by 2030, Deutsche Welle reported.

The deal to build a 200 GW solar power facility was signed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and SoftBank CEO Massayoshi Son on the sidelines of the Saudi Prince’s visit to the United States.

The US$200 billion facility will be built as part of Riyadh’s current effort to modernize the country’s economy and society.

“It’s a huge step in human history,” Prince Mohammed said. “It’s bold, risky and we hope we’ll succeed in doing that.”

The initial phase of the project for the construction of a 3 GW and 4.2 GW solar power facilities will cost US$5 billion, with US$1 billion coming from SoftBank's Vision Fund and the rest from project financing.

Both solar stations, the biggest of their kind around, are scheduled to go online before the year is out.

SoftBank and the Saudis say the solar project will be able to generate around 7.2 gigawatts of power in 2019, and 200 gigawatts by 2030.

The project is expected to create 100,000 jobs in the country and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity.

With up to 800,000 barrels of crude oil burnt for Saudi power generation each day, an additional 200 GW would create enormous excess capacity that could be exported to other countries.

Exporting that oil could increase Saudi Arabia’s annual oil revenues by US$7-US$20 billion.