Saudi Arabia’s $200bn deal with Japan’s SoftBank to create the world’s largest solar project is the latest gambit to transform the oil-rich kingdom under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. But friction between the energy ministry and the sovereign wealth fund, two of the country’s most powerful bodies, illustrates the risk that infighting could yet hamper the kingdom’s attempt to revamp its economy. As part of a US tour, Prince Mohammed and SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son signed an agreement in New York for solar parks in the kingdom with a generation capacity of 200 gigawatts. The renewables rollout is a key pillar of Prince Mohammed’s economic reforms and this is enough to power 150m homes or four t imes the amount of power Saudi Arabia requires. Yet the energy ministry, which oversees the kingdom’s multibillion dollar renewables strategy, and Saudi Aramco which has provided assistance, were blindsided by last month’s announcement, said several people briefed on the matter. “These are intensely complex projects. Announcements shouldn’t come as a surprise to people that need to be involved,” said one of the people. This laid bare a struggle for influence between energy minister Khalid Al Falih and Public Investment Fund chief Yasir al- Rumayyan.
FT 19th April 2018 read more »