Sun Cable lodges plan for major solar module manufacturing plant


The Singaporean consortium behind the $26 billion Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) announced this week it had lodged an application with the Northern Territory’s Development Consent Authority for a facility that will manufacture Maverick solar array systems designed by Australian company 5B.

The prefabricated, pre-wired Maverick system, designed by Sydney-based manufacturer 5B, has been tapped as the module of choice for the AAPL project – a 14 GW solar farm and approximately 33 GWh battery energy storage system to be constructed near Elliott, in the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory.

Sun Cable said the first stage of the proposed manufacturing facility will pilot a semi-automated production line which will provide opportunities to supply other solar farms across northern Australia with the Maverick solar array systems.

Phase two of the development will expand the facility to manufacture systems for the AAPL and establish a logistics and distribution centre to transport material and equipment by rail to Sun Cable’s proposed 14 GW solar farm site.

“This application is an important step in the ongoing development of the Australia-ASEAN Power Link, a solar energy infrastructure network that will provide Darwin and Singapore with competitively priced, dispatchable, high-volume renewable electricity from 2026 and 2027 respectively,” Sun Cable said in a statement.

Sun Cable is planning to build the manufacturing facility in Darwin’s East Arm Business Park – a location chosen due to its proximity to Darwin port and access to the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway – and said it will now work with ICN-NT to select a delivery partner for the project.

The development application is the latest step for the mega project, which shapes as Australia’s largest renewable energy infrastructure project.

The project is expected to deliver enough renewable electricity to power 3 million homes each year.

Image: Sun Cable

The proposed AAPL includes a 14 GW solar farm to be developed on a 12,000-hectare site at Powell Creek. This would be coupled with an estimated 33 GWh of battery storage at the solar farm, in Darwin and in Singapore.

The project is expected to supply power to the Darwin region and to Singapore via a 4,500 km high-voltage direct-current transmission network, including a 750-kilometre overhead transmission line from the solar farm to Darwin and a 3,800km submarine cable from Darwin to Singapore, via Indonesia. The project is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 3 million homes a year.

The development application is the latest milestone for the project which has been awarded Major Project Status with the Northern Territory and Australian governments.

The Federal Government has also included the project on its Priority Initiative List while Sun Cable has already signed a project development agreement with the Northern Territory Government.

While the outlook for the project is favourable, there has been no indication from the company that any nation has signed up to purchase power from the project. Sun Cable however remains confident, saying construction for the project will begin immediately after financial close in October 2023, with commercial operations to commence in 2027.

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