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Saudi Arabia denies halting multi-billion dollar solar project with Softbank

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) instead says that it is working with Softbank and other entities on a number of large-scale multi-billion solar energy projects.

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The $200bn solar project is set to create thousands of jobs and develop a manufacturing industry in line with the kingdom's economic diversification plans laid out in its Vision 2030
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The $200bn solar project is set to create thousands of jobs and develop a manufacturing industry in line with the kingdom's economic diversification plans laid out in its Vision 2030

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has denied this week’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports that the Kingdom had halted plans for a $200bn solar project with Softbank Vision Fund.

PIF instead said that it was working with Softbank and other entities on a number of large-scale multi-billion solar energy projects.

In a statement, PIF refuted the WSJ report as inaccurate and said that it would announce the solar projects in due course.

"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," PIF said, with more than $250bn in assets.

WSJ reported early this week that Saudi Arabia was said to have “shelved” plans to build the $200bn with Japan’s Softbank in favour of a broader renewable energy strategy.

According to the report, “no one is actively working on the project”, with the kingdom instead focused on devising a “broader, more practical” strategy to boost renewable energy, adding that a plan for this was expected to announced in late October.

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In March, Saudi Arabia and Softbank signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the world's largest solar power project. The announcement was one of several projects that signalled the world's biggest oil exporter is increasingly focused on renewable energy.

The $200bn solar project is set to create thousands of jobs and develop a manufacturing industry in line with the kingdom's economic diversification plans laid out in its Vision 2030. The project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts by 2030, according to SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son."

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 fund said.

Investing in solar power allows Saudi Arabia to decrease the amount of crude it currently uses to generate power and boost its overseas shipments.

The cost of the first stage of the solar project will be $5bn and the remaining portion of the project will be through project debt financing.

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