Sun Cable names ‘global experts’ to deliver massive solar+storage project


The $30 billion-plus Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink), which will supply renewable electricity to Darwin and Singapore from a massive solar PV farm and battery energy storage facility in Australia’s Northern Territory, has reached another milestone with the announcement of the Integrated Project Delivery Team (IPDT).

United States-based engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) giant Bechtel, North American transmission specialist Hatch, professional services firms Marsh and PwC Australia, and Australia-headquartered engineering outfit SMEC, a member of the Singapore-based Surbana Jurong Group, have been listed as members of the project delivery team.

The announcement comes just weeks after Sun Cable revealed the generation capacity of what is already shaping as the world’s largest solar PV and storage project would be ramped up, with the solar PV farm increased from the original 10 GW to between 17 and 20 GW. The capacity of the battery energy storage system has also been boosted, from the initial 20 GWh to between 36 and 42 GWh of storage.

The intercontinental project, being developed on a 12,000-hectare site at Powell Creek in the Northern Territory’s Barkly region, will supply power to Darwin and to Singapore via a 4,500-kilometre high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission network, including a 750km overhead transmission line from the solar farm to Darwin and a 3,800km HVDC submarine cable from Darwin to Singapore.

Construction of the key components of the AAPowerLink project is expected to begin from late 2023, with first supply of electricity to Darwin in 2026 and first electricity to Singapore in 2027 with full capacity expected by the end of 2028.

Sun Cable chief executive officer David Griffin said on Wednesday the combined experience of the IPDT across environmental, social and governance frameworks will be essential in delivering a project of such scale and significance with each of the “carefully selected” companies having a proven track record in developing and delivering complex infrastructure projects.

“To secure the support of these globally recognised experts is an important vote of confidence in the significance and feasibility of Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink,” he said.

“Sun Cable is proud to have the expertise of Bechtel, Hatch, SMEC, Marsh, and PwC Australia reinforcing our team, as we deliver this game-changing infrastructure for Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.

“This project is designed to significantly accelerate the carbon-zero ambitions of the region and we have brought together a dream team to bring it to fruition.”

The project, which is anticipated will be capable of supplying up to 15% of Singapore’s electricity needs, has already secured key approvals with the Australian federal government awarding it Major Project Status while the Indonesian government last month approved the submarine transmission cable route and granted approval to undertake the next stage of the subsea cable survey.

James Phillis, chief executive of SMEC Australia and New Zealand, said the “size, scale and importance” of the project meant it looms as a “game-changer” for the renewable energy sector.

“The Australia-Asia PowerLink will be the world’s largest solar energy infrastructure network and will be a game-changer for the renewable energy sector worldwide,” he said.

“As a member of the project delivery team, SMEC is excited to be a critical force in bringing this project to life.”

The Indonesian government has approved the route for the submarine transmission cable.

Image: Sun Cable

The AAPowerLink is the latest in a long line of renewable energy projects SMEC has worked on in Australia. The company said it has been directly involved in the development of more than 6.4 GW worth of utility-scale solar farms in Australia, including Risen Energy’s 100 MW Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland and the massive 720 MW New England Solar Farm being developed in New South Wales by UPC/AC Renewables Australia.

SMEC is also involved in Project EnergyConnect, a 900km proposed electricity interconnector being delivered by network operators TransGrid and ElectraNet and the $4.6 billion Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project, which when complete will provide 2 GW of dispatchable, on-demand renewable power and approximately 350 GWh of large-scale energy storage to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Meanwhile, PwC Australia chief executive Tom Seymour said he expected the AAPowerLink project, which is expected abate an estimated 8.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions, will provide once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunities for communities and supply chain businesses across Australia.

“This complex and ambitious project is unlike anything previously developed. It will make a generational impact on Australia and Singapore,” he said.

“It will pave the way for a new Australian export industry that will create jobs and change lives.”


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