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Atlassian Corp. co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian Corp. co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian Corp. co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian Corp. co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian Corp. co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes

Australia Billionaires Plan to Export Solar Power to Singapore

Nov. 25, 2019
The project could meet around a fifth of Singapore’s energy needs, helping to reduce the city-state’s reliance on natural gas imports.

(Bloomberg) -- Two of Australia’s richest people, Atlassian Corp. co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and Fortescue Metals Group Chairman Andrew Forrest, are investing in an ambitious project to export solar power from a giant plant in Australia to Singapore via a 4500-km (2800-miles) transmission cable.

The project raised tens of millions of Australian dollars that will allow it to undertake development work ahead of an expected financial close in late 2023, according to developer Sun Cable’s Chief Executive Officer David Griffin and a company statement. The plan incorporates a 10-GW solar facility, which the company says will be the world’s biggest, as well as battery storage.

“Each of these elements is pushing the limits of engineering, but not impossible,” Cannon-Brookes, a campaigner for clean energy, said at a recent event in Sydney. “On a global level, this will be innovative for many years to come.”

The project could meet around a fifth of Singapore’s energy needs, according to Sun Cable, helping to reduce the city-state’s reliance on natural gas imports. The company is in discussions about offtake of the power, Griffin said in an email, without naming potential counterparties. “This will take quite a while to finalize,” he said.

Singapore’s electricity industry regulator, the Energy Market Authority, said in a recent email that it has had meetings with Sun Cable but was unable to comment further because of commercial sensitivities.

“Singapore is open to new energy options that provide energy security and price competitiveness while meeting our climate change commitments,” it said.

The Southeast Asian island nation of 5.7 million people could benefit by building more connections to neighboring countries to tap their greater potential for renewable energy, Wong Kim Yin, chief executive officer of power and gas utility SP Group, said in an interview earlier this month. Malaysia and Indonesia have ample spare land for solar panels and enough wind to power turbines, both the things Singapore lack, he said. The company declined to comment later.

Grok Ventures, the private investment vehicle of Cannon-Brookes, and Squadron Energy, a natural resources exploration and development company set up by Forrest, were the co-lead investors on the capital raise, according to Sun Cable’s statement. The total capital cost is seen in the region of A$20 billion (US$13.6 billion), with commercial operations targeted to start in 2027.

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