Driven by a 10GW solar farm located on a cattle station half way between Alice Springs and Darwin, the $20bn Australia-Singapore Power Link is to go ahead after the Australian government granted it major project status. On completion, it is expected to supply Singapore with 20% of its energy needs as it seeks to move away from its dependence on gas-fired power generation.
To be built on the 10,000 km² Newcastle Waters cattle station that was once owned by the legendary empresario Kerry Packer, the engine room of the Australia-Singapore Power Link – also known as the Australia-Asean Power Link – will be the world’s largest solar farm and visible from space. The company responsible for the project is Sun Cable, whose principal backers are the software Atlassian Corporation co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s private company Squadron Energy.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2023, energy production by 2026 and export by 2027. By then, overhead transmission lines will have been put in place to send the electricity to Darwin where it will be fed into the national grid. According to Sun Cable CEO David Griffin, however, two thirds of the power generated by the farm will eventually be exported to Singapore by way of 4,500km of high-voltage direct current undersea cable.
“Singapore is exploring ways of tapping into regional power grids for cleaner energy and to overcome land constraints,” said a spokesmen from the island city-state’s Energy Market Authority (EMA). ”[We are] open to new energy options that provide energy security and price competitiveness while meeting climate change commitments.”
The Australia-Singapore Power Link would also increase Singapore’s potential to become a hub for trading renewable electricity through ASEAN’s Southeast Asian power grid that encompasses Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Brunei, Malaysia, and Cambodia as well as Singapore.