What do the United States and Saudi Arabia have in common? Oil, and lots of it. So what does it say when one is planning to build the largest solar power plant in the history of the world and the other is treating solar energy like a distant cousin with leprosy? Can you say, “cognitive dissonance,” boys and girls?
Saudi Arabia and Japanese powerhouse SoftBank announced today they will build a solar power plant so huge — 200 gigawatts — that it will exceed the amount of solar power installed in the entire world in 2017 by 30%. Once completed, it will triple the amount of electricity generated by Saudi Arabia, which currently gets all its power from burning oil and natural gas. The project is projected to cost $200 billion.
Engadget reports SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, who is known for supporting bold initiatives, told the press recently, “The kingdom has great sunshine, great size of available land and great engineers, great labor, but most importantly, the best and greatest vision.” That “vision thing,” as George W. Bush would say, is reflected in the agreement made a year ago to create a $93 billion fund to promote investments in high tech companies pursuing research in artificial intelligence and robotics.
In fact, it is called the SoftBank Vision Fund. When it was created, it said “The next stage of the Information Revolution is under way and building the businesses that will make this possible will require unprecedented large scale, long term investment.” The fund will “seek to buy minority and majority interests in both private and public companies, from emerging businesses to established, multi-billion-dollar firms. It expects to obtain preferred access to long-term investment opportunities worth $100 million or more.”
In addition to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, other fund participants include Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment, which has committed $15 billion, Apple, Qualcomm, Foxconn Technology, and Sharp Corp. The Vision Fund is expected to be a major participant in the Saudi/SoftBank solar power plant project. No starting date for the installation has been announced, although the parties say they have the plans for it in place. The project is expected to create 100,000 jobs during the construction phase.
All this while Trump the Despicable plots to make the coal industry great again at the expense of the health of American citizens. By the time America stops going backward, the rest of the world will have passed it by. Trump is doing everything in his power to make America uncompetitive with other world nations in the years and decades to come.