Saudi Government officials have stepped on the brakes on their eye-catching transformation project in the kingdom. They have put on hold a $200 billion plan with SoftbBank Group Corp to build the world’s biggest solar-power-generator.
The halt, not yet sure about its nature – whether temporary or permanent – marks a setback for the partnership between Saudi Arabia and SoftBank. Together, the bank and the government created a $100 billion fund for technology company investments that have resulted in a rush of new money flooding into startups.
The solar project would have turned the world’s most important oil producer into a giant in solar power, generating an estimated 200 gigawatts of energy — more than three times the country’s daily needs.
The plan was announced by SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New York last March and was meant to be an extension of their partnership.
Now, officials and a Saudi government adviser said, no one is actively working on the project. Instead, the officials and the adviser said the Saudi kingdom is working up a broader, more practical strategy to boost renewable energy, to be announced in late October around the time of an investment conference in Riyadh.