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News & Analysis

Sun Cable’s giant solar farm in the NT, backed by Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest, is now a $30 billion project

- September 24, 2021 2 MIN READ
5b solar panels
5b panels being rolled out at another project
The value a massive solar farm in the Northern Territory designed to supply power to Singapore, has increased by $8 billion to $30 billion in the wake of approval by the Indonesian Government to run the cable through its waters.

The Sun Cable Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) project has some high profile backers, including Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, through his private family investment firm, Grok Ventures, and Fortescue Metals chair Dr Andrew Forrest through Squadron Energy, as cornerstone investors.

Cannon-Brooks said Australia can become a renewable energy superpower.

“We can and should tap into our solar resources that could power the world 5 times over. Sun Cable is harnessing this at scale, and its Australia-Asia PowerLink will create massive local and international renewable energy opportunities,” he said.

“Securing Indonesian support is a big step towards realising our potential of becoming one of the world’s largest energy exporters.”

Singapore-based Sun Cable‘s initial $22 billion proposal, revealed two years ago, was for a a 10-gigawatt (GW) solar farm and 22GWh battery storage near Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory. The size of the plant solar farms has now been increased significantly to 17-20GWp; combined with the world’s largest battery, 36-42GWh, connected to the world’s longest undersea High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable system from Darwin to Singapore at around 4,200km.

The project is expected to take six to seven years to complete and create more than 1500 jobs in construction, 350 operational jobs, and 12,000 indirect jobs.

Central to the project is Sydney solar energy startup 5B, founded by Chris McGrath and Eden Tehan in 2013. The business developed new technology for portable, prefabricated solar arrays, re-engineering the supply chain and simplifying how solar projects are delivered, using fewer materials, rapid deployment and streamlined logistics. The company has a production facility in Alexandria and its “Maverick” system is already being used in remote locations across Australia.

AAPowerLink has the potential to generate up to A$2 billion in exports for Australia annually and deliver total carbon emissions abatement estimated at 8.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

Singapore gets 95% of its electricity from imported LNG. The solar project will be capable of supplying up to 15% of Singapore’s electricity needs from 2028, reducing the city-state’s emissions by 6 million tonnes per year, matching the entire climate abatement gap in Singapore’s announced 2030 targets.

As part of building the AAPowerLink through Indonesian waters, Sun Cable has pledged investment and jobs for the country as well as sharing knowledge, and supporting Indonesian manufacturing.

Sun Cable CEO David Griffin said the Indonesian approval was a significant milestone for the project.

“We are developing the technology that integrates solar, storage and HVDC transmission technologies, to meet the large-scale demand for renewable energy,” he said.

“There is a significant alignment with the Australian Government’s Technology Roadmap and Lowering Emissions MOU signed with Singapore in October 2020. We want this world-leading project to create a step-change in the Indo-Pacific’s capability to achieve net zero ambitions and economic growth sustained by renewable energy.”