SoftBank backs Saudi Arabia’s ambitious solar effort

The team at


ImpactAlpha, April 2 – The renewable energy revolution may be powered by oil money.

Saudi Arabia, in a significant escalation of its renewable energy goals, is targeting the deployment of 200-gigawatts of solar power by 2030. (The Kingdom’s original “Vision 2030” plan set a target of 9.5-gigawatts of renewable power generation of all kinds.)

The initiative will cost $200 billion including the panels, battery storage and a solar panel manufacturing facility. SoftBank is backing the first, $5 billion, 7.2-gigawatt phase of the project. It is committing $1 billion from its $93 billion Vision Fund that is focused on technologies tackling global challenges.

The entire project, if realized, represents a step-change in the deployment of solar energy generating capacity. About 75 gigawatts of solar was deployed in 2016, bringing installed global photovoltaic capacity to about 300 gigawatts. Saudi Arabia’s installed electricity generating capacity—for all forms of energy—is currently around 66-gigawatts.