World’s biggest solar power project on track despite shelving reports

By Lucy Ingham

Saudi Arabia has been forced to refute claims that the world’s biggest solar power project, which is being developed by Japanese technology giant SoftBank with backing from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is being shelved.

The announcement follows reports in Reuters and the Wall Street Journal on Sunday that the project was on hold, citing comments from Saudi government officials.

“In response to claims in recent press reports, a spokesperson for the Public Investment Fund (PIF) stated that media articles claiming that work has been shelved with respect to SoftBank and Solar Projects are completely inaccurate,” the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia Information Office said.

“The spokesperson added that the Public Investment Fund continues to work with the SoftBank Vision Fund, and other parties, on a number of large-scale, multi-billion dollar projects relating to the solar industry, which will be announced in due course.”

Saudi Arabia and SoftBank partner on world’s biggest solar power project

The landmark solar power generation project was announced in March of this year.

Estimated to cost $200bn, it will see the construction of solar power facilities in Saudi Arabia capable of generating a total 200 gigawatts, more than twice the next largest solar power generation project.

Set for completion in 2030, its scale will fuel the generation of a domestic solar manufacturing industry in Saudi Arabia, complete with extensive research and development capabilities.

“The announcement in March 2018 clearly stated that this includes solar generation projects and joint plans to develop large-scale solar panels manufacturing facilities in Saudi Arabia for solar power generation,” the announcement continued.

“This will be complimented by R&D and training components. These plans to develop a leading champion for the industry remain on-track and in-line with the timeline that would be anticipated for projects of this scale and ambition.”

Saudi Arabia eyes renewable future

The world’s biggest solar power project is part of a wider plan by the country to diversify its economy and power sources, with renewables forming a central focus of the initiative.

“The Kingdom is moving forward with the overall renewable energy strategy, through which Saudi Arabia aims to be a leading and reliable diversified supplier of renewable energy,” the Information Office said.

“In line with Vision 2030, the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources is undertaking a program in coordination with the Kingdom’s stakeholders to transform the power sector, and ensure it is more competitive, efficient and sustainable, underpinned by a strong pipeline for private sector participation.”

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