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Legislation increases certainty for $30 billion Sun Cable megaproject

Legislation increases certainty for $30 billion Sun Cable megaproject

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Sun Cable’s ambitious $30-plus billion Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink), that aims to power Darwin and export solar from the Australian outback to Singapore via a submarine transmission link, has reached another milestone with the Territory government announcing this week it has passed legislation that will streamline existing processes and increase marketplace certainty for the developers.

Singapore-based Sun Cable is seeking to develop a giant solar PV and battery complex on a 12,000-hectare site in the Northern Territory’s (NT) Barkly region. The project includes a 17-20GW solar farm and between 36GWh and 42GWh of energy storage.

The Territory government has already signed a Project Development Agreement (PDA) which allows it to work in partnership with Sun Cable to finalise land tenure and commercial arrangements for the AAPowerLink but it has now moved to provide the developers with even more certainty.

The government said the Solar Project (Australia-Asia Power Link) (Special Provisions) Bill 2022 will provide certainty that key commitments in the PDA will be met.

“The legislation will clarify and streamline existing processes, increase project certainty, and support Sun Cable to secure project financing,” it said, adding that while the legislation provides for the grant, or consent to the grant of tenure, it “does not remove the need for Sun Cable to reach agreement with other interested parties”.

Development Minister Eva Lawler said the AAPowerLink project will serve as a major economic driver for the Territory and put the region on the international map when it comes to renewables.

“The legislation provides certainty for the project and facilitates its implementation which will create over 1,750 jobs during construction and 350 ongoing positions as part of operations,” she said.

“The Australia-Asia PowerLink will transform the Territory into a renewable energy powerhouse and establish a new energy export industry for Australia, with positive flow-on benefits for businesses.”

Sun Cable said the passing of the legislation is another major milestone for the project which shapes as the world’s biggest solar and battery energy storage project.

The project will include a 17-20GW solar farm tied to 36-42GWh of battery energy storage.

Image: Sun Cable

“This is another significant milestone, facilitating Sun Cable’s AAPowerLink pathway as we work with the Northern Territory to realise the potential of this world-class solar asset, creating jobs, investment, large-scale green industry development and lower emissions,” the company said in a social media post.

Once operational, the AAPowerLink will supply power to Darwin and to Singapore via a 4,200-kilometre transmission network, including a 750km overhead transmission line from the solar farm to Darwin and a 3,800km submarine cable from Darwin to Singapore. The project is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 3 million homes a year.

The project, which is anticipated will provide 800MW of renewable energy capacity to the Darwin region from 2026 and up to 15% of Singapore’s electricity needs from 2027, has already secured key approvals with the Australian federal government awarding it Major Project Status while the Indonesian government has approved the submarine transmission cable route.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the $30-plus billion project will deliver an economic and employment bonanza for the Top End.

“Sun Cable’s AAPowerLink will invest $8 billion in Australia, with the majority invested here in the Territory,” she said. “That means more local jobs, more opportunities for local businesses, and a strong and diversified economy.”

Sun Cable has said construction for the project will begin immediately after financial close in October 2023 with commercial operations to commence in 2027.

Construction of the key elements of the AAPowerLink project is expected to begin in early 2024 with the first power to be supplied to Darwin in 2026. The first supply of electricity to Singapore is expected in 2027 with full capacity expected by the end of 2028.

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