Cannon-Brookes, Twiggy Forrest double down on $30bn Sun Cable project in $210 million Series B

- March 14, 2022 2 MIN READ
5b solar panels
Tech and mining billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Dr Andrew Forrest have ramped up their support for a $30 billion project to supply solar power from the Australia to Singapore, leading a $210 million Series B round into Sun Cable.

Singapore-based Sun Cable’s $30 billion plan was first revealed in 2019, with Cannon-Brookes and Forrest as cornerstone investors – the Atlassian co-founder through his private family investment firm, Grok Ventures, and the Fortescue Metals Group founder through Squadron Energy, a subsidiary of his investment company, Tattarang.

The Sun Cable Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) is a 17-20-gigawatt (GW) solar farm and up to 42GWh battery storage near Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory, connected to the world’s longest undersea High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable system, at around 4,200km running from Darwin to Singapore.

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.

Singapore generates 95% of its electricity from imported LNG. The solar project will be capable of supplying up to 15% of the city-state’s electricity needs from 2028.

A schematic of Sun Cable’s AAPowerLink project sending solar power to Singapore.

Sun Cable founder and CEO David Griffin said the fresh capital will support the development of the world’s largest intercontinental renewable power system.

“We have developed a world leading capability in four short years. We are thrilled to have materially strengthened our resources with the support of all of our shareholders, who are such strong advocates for our mission,” he said.

“This capital raise will enable the delivery of renewable solar power from Australia to Singapore, advance our other multi gigawatt scale projects, and support the progress of key facilitating assets.

Sun Cable founder and CEO David Griffin

“We are buoyed by the level of support from our investors and key stakeholders including governments, offtakers, suppliers, and the communities in which we operate.”

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 to simplify how solar projects are delivered.

The new investment from Cannon-Brookes is part of a pledge he made last year to invest $1 billion via Grok in climate change startups, having recently backed Infradebt, a specialist infrastructure project finance fund manager/financier for renewables and battery storage projects, in a $200 million round.

Last week he walked away from a $5.5 billion takeover bid for AGL after it was rejected by the ASX-listed company’s board for a second time.

The AAPowerLink project could generate up to A$2 billion in exports for Australia annually and deliver carbon emissions abatement of around 8.6 million tonnes annually, so Cannon-Brookes is enthusiastic about its potentia.

“This brings Australia one step closer to realising our renewables exporting potential. We can power the world with clean energy and Sun Cable is harnessing that at scale,” he said.

“It’s a blueprint for how we export energy across the world. We fully back this vision.”

Forrest said Sun Cable’s vision will transform Australia’s capability to become a world-leading generator and exporter of renewable electricity and enable decarbonisation.