Australia-Singapore power link, world’s biggest solar+storage project get government backing

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After garnering attention last month when ambitious plans were unveiled by project proponents Sun Cable, the world’s biggest solar plant has taken a big step forward winning Major Project Status from the Northern Territory (NT) government. The proposed Australia-Singapore Power Link is a $20 billion project consisting of a 10 GW solar farm coupled with a 20-30 GWh storage facility in the sun-drenched Tennant Creek region.

As we reported earlier, the project plans to export electricity to both Darwin and Singapore. According to David Griffin, managing director of Singapore-based Sun Cable, the project’s transmission capacity will stand at 2.5 GW. Power will be transported via 3,800-km high voltage direct current submarine cables and cover 20% of Singapore’s power demand.

NT chief minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday that his government would begin negotiations with Sun Cable on a Project Development Agreement, which will provide the framework for progressing the project through the required approval processes. Integrating the project into the developing ASEAN power grid will also be assessed in the detail during the development phase, the NT government said. As for next steps, the Singapore-based developer will be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and a Territory Benefit Plan.

“Major Project Status for Sun Cable is an important step towards making this this vision a reality,” the chief minister said. “The Sun Cable project is a game changer for the Territory and will further our reputation around the world as a place to do business and invest.”

With major project status awarded to private sector-initiated projects that are significant to the Territory’s economic development, the proposed Australia-Singapore Power Link has the potential to create 1000 jobs during the construction phase and 300 operational jobs. The developer has confirmed its solar partner will be Sydney-based pre-fabricated solar array developer manufacturer 5B. According to the government, the project is already engaging local contractors and will seek to manufacture 5B’s pre-fabricated, re-deployable solar arrays in Darwin and Adelaide.

“Major Project Status for Sun Cable is an important step towards making this this vision a reality,” the chief minister said. “The Sun Cable project is a game changer for the Territory and will further our reputation around the world as a place to do business and invest.”

While final approvals could take time given the project’s massive size and the number of stakeholders involved, Sun Cable is looking to submit the application next year. Asked about the financing structure behind the project, David Griffin, managing director of Singapore-based project proponent Sun Cable, told pv magazine this is yet to be determined. “Financial close target date is 2023,” he said. The company has set a timeline to start construction in 2023 with commercial operations kicking off in 2027.

“Sun Cable is excited to enter the next phase of the development process for the Australia-Singapore Power Link,” the company said in comments. “The Northern Territory is proving to be a great jurisdiction to work in. We look forward to advancing the project with the Northern Territory Government’s support.”

The project proposal was unveiled just days following the release of the 10 GW Vision for the Northern Territory by climate change think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions. Calculating with the region’s unlimited potential to generate solar power, the report raises awareness of the potential jobs and revenue opportunities for Territorians in a zero-carbon economy by 2030.