The Sun Cable export initiative, which is sponsored by two of Australia’s greatest billionaires, has received formal backing from the Indonesian government, opening the door for its transit through the archipelago on its route to Singapore. The project formally called as Australia-Asia PowerLink will require up to $US2.58 billion in domestic investment, according to the Indonesian government in Jakarta. Sun Cable intends to build a solar facility at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory using 5B’s Maverick technology. The 70-year venture, backed by tech innovator Mike Cannon-Brookes and mining magnate Andrew Forrest, envisions exporting renewable energy generated at a massive solar farm near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory via a 4200-kilometer underwater cable, supplying clean energy to contend with imported natural gas. A massive battery would power the project, assuring a steady supply of carbon-free energy to the city-state. Sun Cable projected the cost at $30 billion or more on Wednesday, up from $22 billion earlier this year.
According to CEO David Griffin, this is owing to a major expansion of both the solar farm and the batteries, which have been increased to 17-20 gigatonnes and 36-42 gigatonnes-hours, respectively. Sun Cable intends to spend $1 billion in Indonesia throughout the project’s development phase, which will last from 2024 to 2028. Once functional, another $US1.5 billion will be spent, including a maritime maintenance station in Indonesia. The business has obtained a subsea development license and expects to complete the required environmental licensing with the Indonesian government by 2023. “One investment that is fully supported by the government is a renewable energy transmission system,” the Indonesian government said. “The Indonesian government, in partnership with Australia, sponsors one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects, the Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink).” The government also expressed hope that the investment will enhance its performance within the ASEAN bloc in terms of meeting carbon-reduction objectives. ASEAN has set an aim of sourcing 23 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The Indonesian government expects that the project would hasten the growth of the country’s fledgling lithium battery sector. “There is a potential to buy electric cells for industrial businesses in Indonesia totaling $US600 million, or around 8.5 trillion rupiahs,” the report stated.
Exports to Singapore are expected to begin in 2028, but the financiers required to complete the project have yet to be found. Because of the project’s magnitude, it has the capacity to push the Asian region’s shift to sustainable technologies, as well as establish a new export sector for Australia, support employment, and the NT and federal economies. However, such an intercontinental underwater cable would be the world’s longest, posing huge engineering problems as well as necessitating cross-border collaboration among national governments. According to Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the project would have a significant economic impact. Since his re-election to a second five-year term in 2019, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has made courting foreign direct investment a top goal. In the face of strong domestic resistance, his government has sought to remove protectionist policies. The Omnibus Law, which was approved last year, amended labor regulations and introduced a fund for overseas investors to engage in infrastructure. Penny Williams, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, would want to see additional Australian companies follow Sun Cable to Indonesia. “Academic institutions, hospitals, training & development, and even internship possibilities are all part of this endeavor.
According to Mr. Griffin, the initiative aims to “create a step-change in the Indo-potential Pacific’s to realize net-zero aspirations and economic development powered by sustainable energy.” He stated that the project would produce up to $2 billion in exportation for Australia every year, equivalent to the dairy export sector, and would result in more than $8 billion in direct investment in Australia. The project’s previous planned capacity included a 14 GW solar power plant and 30 GWh of storage capacity, however, Mr. Griffin said increasing demand for power in Singapore and the cost advantages from a larger capacity justified the upgrading.