Sun Cable: Here’s What the $30 Billion Solar Project in the NT Involves

Sun Cable: Here’s What the $30 Billion Solar Project in the NT Involves
A Sun Cable render. Image: Sun Cable

Sun Cable, an ambitious solar project backed by Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest, has been approved by Infrastructure Australia for investment. It’s set to be the world’s largest solar generation and transmission project.

On Friday, Sun Cable announced that Infrastructure Australia had approved the project’s economic merit, meaning that the project is now “investment ready”. The project includes “AAPowerLink”, which seeks to service the Indo-Pacific region with renewable energy. Cannon-Brookes (co-founder of Atlassian) and Forrest (chairman of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals) invested in the project in March.

Sun Cable began to pick up steam back in 2020. Today, the project envisions a 12,000-hectare solar farm, capable of producing 17-20 GWp (gigawatt peak) of energy, with 36-42 GWh of battery storage. From this farm, a 4,200km seafloor cable would be run from the Northern Territory’s Barkly Region all the way to Singapore. Solar tends to take up a lot of land, but this project massively outsizes current solar projects in Australia (the New England solar farm is only 2,000 hectares).

“Today’s announcement by Infrastructure Australia affirms that the AAPowerLink is economically viable and will deliver significant benefits for Australia and our region,” said Sun Cable’s founder and CEO, David Griffin on Friday.

“The AAPowerLink will enable a stronger economy for the long term through contracts, wages and economic diversification. It will spur enhanced capacity and skills in the construction and technology sectors as a result of jobs and training over the lifetime of the project, and pave the way for new green industries to be established, and to thrive.”

sun cable
A Sun Cable testing site. Image: Sun Cable

The company expects that $8 billion will be generated in investment and $2 billion is expected from annual export revenues from 2028. Additionally, the project is set to create 14,000 direct and indirect jobs (mainly in Australia). To get the project going, it’s going to need about $30 billion dollars, according to Friday’s announcement.

“The territory government welcomes today’s announcement,” added Chief Minister of The Northern Territory, Natasha Fyles.

“Sun Cable’s project will position the territory as a renewable energy powerhouse – powering Territory industries with territory sunshine, creating new permanent jobs, and establishing a new export industry.”

We will need a lot of Sun Cable-like projects in our shift to renewables.

Construction is set to begin in 2024. Darwin is expected to be supplied by Sun Cable by 2027, and the project is expected to be completed by 2029.