In Australia, the most ambitious renewable energy project in the world

Photo credit: Sun Cable

Australia is about to launch the most ambitious renewable energy project in the world. The Singapore company Sun Cable is behind this project, known as Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL). It combines three elements that make it a world first: the most extensive solar farm, the longest undersea electricity cable, and the largest battery network to store the electricity produced. 

The solar farm will be located in Australia’s Northern Territory, which enjoys very good sunshine. It will extend across more than 12,000 hectares and provide 10 gigawatts of energy, in other words the equivalent of nine million photovoltaic solar panels installed on roofs. Its storage facility, made up of 30 gigawatt-hour (GWh) batteries on site and in the city of Darwin on the north coast, will supply continuous clean energy round the clock. 

This energy storage capacity will be 155 times greater than the largest lithium-ion battery in the world currently in service, which is the Australian power reserve of Hornsdale, i.e. 193.5 megawatt-hours (MWh). 

First electricity exports around 2027

As the solar farm is far from any urban areas, the project will require cables to transport the energy. An 800-km, 3-GW high-voltage overhead power line will connect the site to Darwin. From there, it will continue with a 2.2-GW high-voltage undersea line spanning 3,700 km to transport the electricity to Singapore. 

To give an idea of the scale of this project, this undersea line will be five times longer than the longest undersea cable in the world today, namely the Norway-to-Britain link, which measures 720 kilometers across the North Sea.

This initiative by Sun Cable was granted “major project” status last summer by the Australian government to accelerate its construction. And despite its mammoth cost (16 billion dollars), the economic forecasts state that it will be profitable throughout its life. 

Work is set to begin in 2023, connection to the electricity grid should take place by 2026, and export to Singapore around 2027. 

Two thirds of the energy produced will be exported and cover 20% of Singapore’s electricity needs, which will enable the City-State to meet its CO2 emission reduction commitments set out in the Paris Agreement. 


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