Twiggy Forrest-backed intercontinental solar power project deemed ‘investment ready’

Twiggy Forrest-backed intercontinental solar power project deemed ‘investment ready’

The Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) project backed by the likes of billionaires Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes has today been deemed ‘investment ready’ by Infrastructure Australia, advancing Sun Cable’s ambitious plans on the Infrastructure Priority List.

Infrastructure Australia’s tick of approval means the AAPowerLink - expected to be the world’s largest solar storage and transmission system - has had its economic benefits affirmed by the independent statutory body.

Once up and running, Sun Cable’s project will transmit renewable electricity from the Barkly region of the Northern Territory to Darwin and Singapore, drawing on the favourable sunlight conditions in the nation’s top end.

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

“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.”

Being added to the Infrastructure Priority List means the AAPowerLink project joints a pipeline of “nationally significant proposals” according to Sun Cable, an Australian-Singaporean company.

The List identifies projects of national significance, with strategic merit, value for taxpayers and deliverability.

“Through this transparent process, Infrastructure Australia identifies infrastructure needs and guides governments towards infrastructure investments that will deliver the best value for communities,” Sun Cable said.

The project was first identified by Infrastructure Australia in 2021, at the time noting the “significant opportunity” to harness the NT’s advantage by developing large-scale renewable energy generation, supported by transmission infrastructure to supply domestic and export markets.

“Sun Cable has worked with Infrastructure Australia since December 2020, to be first listed as a priority in February 2021. Now being deemed investment ready through the independent review process is a significant milestone,” Sun Cable chief government and corporate affairs officer Georgie Skipper said.

“We are one of few private sector led projects to be deemed investment ready in this year’s Infrastructure Priority List, in recognition of the significant economic impact the Australia-Asia PowerLink can have on the NT and Australian economy.

“There is a strong benefit to national capacity and employment creation, with an average of 1,100 total jobs estimated to be supported annually at the national level over the entire project. We look forward to working with the government and the private sector to bring this project to fruition.”

The AAPowerLink is targeted to reach financial close by the start of 2024, with construction to commence in the same year and electricity supply to Darwin in 2027. It will likely be fully operational by 2029.

As part of the project, Sun Cable expects around $8 billion to be invested, with $2 billion in expected annual export revenues to be generated from 2028.

Sun Cable anticipates around 14,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by AAPowerLink, which will abate around 2.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Natasha Fyles said the project will assist the Territory in growing its economy.

“The NT Government is aiming for a $40 billion economy by 2030 to accelerate jobs and population growth. Projects like Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia Power-Link are exactly the sorts of projects which will help us get there,” Fyles said.

“The Territory Government welcomes today’s announcement. 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.”

Earlier this year, Sun Cable raised $210 million in Series B capital to support the project, led by Atlassian co-founder Cannon Bookes’ investment vehicle Grok Ventures, and Squadron Energy, a subsidiary of Tattarang which is owned by mining magnate Forrest.

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