Australian billionaires invest in 10 GW Northern Territory solar farm

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Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has joined tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes as a major early investor in the $20-plus billion Sun Cable project, which plans to export electricity via 3,800-km high voltage direct current submarine cable and cover 20% of Singapore’s power demand. The pair are the biggest of a group of individual investors that have jointly pumped in less than $50 million allowing for development work to start before an expected financial close in 2023.

Project developers Sun Cable said on Wednesday that it had raised “less than $50 million, but in the tens of millions” in an oversubscribed capital raising that would fund development work for what it calls the Australia-Singapore Power Link. The “significant capital raise” was led by Brookes’ investment vehicle Grok Ventures and Forrest’s natural resources company Squadron Energy.

The capital raising marks the start of an ambitious plan to develop the world’s largest solar farm with a 10 GW capacity covering 15,000 hectares near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, coupled with a 22 GWh battery storage facility. The project would aim to supply power to the Darwin region and to Singapore via a 4,500 km high-voltage direct-current transmission network, including the 3,800 km submarine cable.

The ambitious plan was unveiled in June with the Northern Territory government on board and was soon awarded major project status. The project quickly won the backing of Cannon-Brookes and found definite interest with iSwitch, Singapore’s largest green energy retailer, which pledged its support as a foundation off-taker for the solar energy produced by the proposed Sun Cable project. The capital rising represents another major milestone for the megaproject as it would help the developers to work through regulatory and environmental approvals.

“For this type of venture, where there’s a great deal of complexity, this sort of capital raising with that calibre of investor is really critical,” David Griffin, the CEO of Sun Cable said. “Mike and Andrew have successfully endured the process of building very large-scale outcomes from scratch. I look forward to Sun Cable achieving a similar outcome and therefore hastening the global energy transition.”