SoftBank Vision Fund and Saudi Arabia to create world's largest solar power firm

The Japan Times

NEW YORK/RIYADH – SoftBank Group Corp.'s Vision Fund will invest in a solar-power generation company in Saudi Arabia, creating the world's biggest solar producer, as it steps up its involvement in the kingdom, its chief executive said Tuesday. The project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, SoftBank's CEO Masayoshi Son told reporters in New York. That would add to around 400 GW of globally installed power capacity and is comparable to the world's total nuclear power capacity of around 390 GW as of the end of 2016. The initial phase of the project for 7.2 GW of solar capacity will cost $5 billion, with $1 billion coming from SoftBank's Vision Fund and the rest from project financing, Son said. The final investment total for the 200 GW of generation, including the solar panels, battery storage and a manufacturing facility for panels in Saudi Arabia, will eventually total around $200 billion, he said.


At Mideast event, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns Paris climate goals still not enough

The Japan Times

ABU DHABI - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took his global message urging immediate climate action to officials gathered in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, where production of hydrocarbons remains a key driver of the economy. Guterres is calling on governments to stop building new coal plants by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 45 percent over the next decade and overhauling fossil fuel-driven economies with new technologies like solar and wind. The world, he said, "is facing a grave climate emergency." In remarks at a summit in Abu Dhabi, he painted a grim picture of how rapidly climate change is advancing, saying it is outpacing efforts to address it. He lauded the Paris climate accord, but said even if its promises are fully met, the world still faces what he described as a catastrophic 3-degree temperature rise by the end of the century.


Solar Impulse 2: Sun-powered plane takes off from Cairo on last leg of round-the-world voyage

The Independent - Tech

Nasa has announced that it has found evidence of flowing water on Mars. Scientists have long speculated that Recurring Slope Lineae -- or dark patches -- on Mars were made up of briny water but the new findings prove that those patches are caused by liquid water, which it has established by finding hydrated salts. Several hundred camped outside the London store in Covent Garden. The 6s will have new features like a vastly improved camera and a pressure-sensitive "3D Touch" display


With Small Steps, Palestinians and Israelis Try to Tackle Gaza's Ills

NYT > Middle East

Last year, when the Trump administration was still trying to entice the Palestinians into peace talks with Israel through cooperation rather than coercion, it encouraged the two sides to team up on small-scale infrastructure projects as a way to rebuild trust while improving conditions in the here-and-now. Deep in the Negev Desert, a group of Israeli and Palestinian civilians did just that. They hammered out creative ways to bring solar power, sewage treatment and clean water to the impoverished Gaza Strip, where the lights are out more than they are on, the aquifers are befouled, and raw sewage has been pouring into the Mediterranean -- sometimes overwhelming a nearby Israeli desalination plant with pollution. Their plans were aimed at creating jobs, improving public health and, above all, sustaining hope in a place where that is in short supply. But in the time it took them to see to the nuts and bolts -- business plans, site selection, Israeli military approvals, and the hiring of engineers and workers in Gaza -- the political context changed radically.


Saudi Arabia Shelves Work on SoftBank's $200 Billion Solar Project

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

DUBAI--Saudi Arabia has put on hold a $200 billion plan with SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 -0.31% to build the world's biggest solar-power-generation project, Saudi government officials said, in a complication for another eye-catching transformation project in the kingdom. The stalled project marks a setback for a partnership between Saudi Arabia and SoftBank that has pursued ambitious ideas. Together, they have created a $100 billion fund for technology company investments that has resulted in a rush of new money flooding into startups. The project would have turned the world's most important oil producer into a giant in solar power, ultimately generating about 200 gigawatts of energy--more than three times what the country needs every day. 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.