Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) on Monday denied reports that it had shelved a $200bn solar project announced in partnership with SoftBank.
The Wall Street Journal cited sources as confirming no one was currently working on the project, which was launched in March during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the United States.
Instead the publication said the sovereign fund was expected to announce a more “practical” renewable energy plan at a Public Investment Fund conference this month.
A PIF source said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency that it is “continuing to work with SoftBank and other institutions on a number of large-scale, multi-billion dollar solar projects that will be announced when the time is right”.
It went on to refer to the March statement, which mentioned solar power generation and joint plans to manufacture solar panels in the kingdom on a large scale.
“These plans include research, development and training programmes for professionals in the sector,” it said. “Plans to set up a pilot project in the solar sector are still on track, in line with projected schedules for projects of this magnitude and ambitions.”
The March mega project was expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200GW of capacity by 2030, with an initial phase of 7.2GW projected to cost $5bn.
It came a month after the kingdom selected local firm ACWA Power for its first photovoltaic solar development.
The 300MW plant in Saraka is expected to require $300m of private sector investment and become operational next year.
The kingdom aims to generate 9.5GW of solar power annually by 2023.