Sun Cable plans Tasmanian subsea cable manufacturing facility for $30b solar project

Sun Cable plans Tasmanian subsea cable manufacturing facility for $30b solar project

Photo: Zbynek Burival via Unsplash

With a battle for ownership now behind it, the Mike Cannon-Brookes-backed Sun Cable is pressing ahead with its $30 billion solar power project after announcing Tasmania’s Bell Bay as the preferred site for construction of an advanced high-voltage (HVDC) subsea cable manufacturing facility.

The facility will become the first advanced HVDC subsea cable manufacturing site in the southern hemisphere and support what Sun Cable describes as a globally significant renewable energy supply chain ecosystem in Australia.

While the final decision remains subject to community consultation and regulatory approvals, Bell Bay has been chosen for its size and proximity to one of the country’s few natural deep-water ports, rail infrastructure and renewable energy infrastructure.

Sun Cable says that should the development proceed, Bell Bay would also become a critical enabler of the company’s flagship AAPowerLink project that will deliver solar power generated in the Northern Territory to consumers in Singapore.

The Sun cable project is set to incorporate the world's largest solar plant, the world's largest battery and the world's longest submarine power cable.

Sun Cable says it is proceeding with a purpose-built facility at Bell Bay in a bid to overcome global supply constraints of HVDC subsea cable, while also driving domestic demand for critical minerals and processing industries for the renewable power sector.

According to Sun Cable, high-voltage subsea cables will play a critical role in the global energy transition and in solving the transmission of green electrons over long distances.

“Australia has an abundance of sunshine and wind,” says Sun Cable’s chief projects officer Chris Tyrrell.

“HVDC cable enables the export of this natural resource to the world, establishing Australia as a renewable energy superpower as well as an advanced manufacturing hub for critical supply chains.

“Sun Cable will soon commence consultation with local communities and stakeholders.

“We welcome further input and feedback before proceeding with a final decision and subsequent development applications.”

The Bell Bay facility will comprise a complex of large integrated workshop buildings for cable manufacturing, storage, testing and supporting offices, as well as customised port facilities for the transport of finished product loaded on specialised cable-laying vessels.

A tower for the critical vertical manufacturing processes is also required to ensure the production of the highest quality advanced subsea cables.

Sun Cable estimates the project will create more than 800 construction jobs and more than 400 full-time advanced manufacturing roles, while the Tasmanian Government estimates the project could deliver $1 billion in economic activity to Tasmania during construction and up to $350 million a year once fully operational.

In partnership with the government, Sun Cable plans to develop the required workforce, including training and development programs for the renewable energy transition.

Once approvals have been granted, construction of the Bell Bay facility is expected to begin in 2025 with manufacturing set to commence in 2029.

The announcement follows Cannon-Brookes' Grok Ventures officially taking control of Sun Cable from administrators in September after fending off its former partner, mining magnate Andrew Forrest.

Sun Cable was placed into voluntary administration earlier this year following a falling out between the Atlassian founder and Forrest who were original backers of the solar power project. The duo are reported to have been at odds over the way forward for the company.

Cannon-Brookes’ revised plans of Sun Cable involve supplying electricity from the six-gigawatt capacity solar farm initially to Darwin by 2030 before proceeding with the Singapore subsea cable some years later.

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