SunCable’s 14 GW Plan Inches Ahead With Move for Solar Mfg Plant in Darwin

Sun Cable, the Singapore-based consortium handling the world’s largest electricity infrastructure project, aka the $22 billion Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL), revealed this week that it had lodged an application with the Northern Territory’s Development Consent Authority for a facility in the region’s capital, Darwin. The said facility will manufacture Maverick solar array systems designed by Sydney-based company 5B which consists of renewable energy experts. 

The AAPL project comprises the construction of a 14 GW solar farm and around 33 GWh battery energy storage system near Elliot in the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory. Plans are for the power generated at the farm to be exported to Singapore via HVDC cables, besides domestic use. 5B’s prefabricated, pre-wired Maverick system enables faster and cheaper deployment than what traditional solar installations can accomplish. Sun Cable informed that the first stage of the proposed manufacturing facility will pilot a semi-automated production line which will provide opportunities to supply other solar farms across northern Australia with the Maverick solar array systems. 

Phase two, it said, will comprise the facility’s expansion to manufacture systems for the AAPL and establish a logistics and distribution centre so that material and equipment can be transported by rail to Sun Cable’s proposed 14 GW solar farm site on a 12,000-hectare site at Powell Creek. A statement explained, “This application is an important step in the ongoing development of the Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL); a solar energy infrastructure network that will provide Darwin and Singapore with competitively priced, dispatchable, high volume renewable electricity from 2026 and 2027 respectively.”      

The consortium is planning to build the Maverick production plant in Darwin’s East Arm Business Park since the location is close to Darwin port, Alice Springs and Darwin Railway Station. The project will likely supply power to the Darwin region and to Singapore via a 4,500 km high-voltage direct-current transmission network, including a 750-kilometre overhead transmission line from the solar farm in Powell Creek to Darwin and a 3,800 km submarine cable from Darwin to Singapore, via Indonesia. The renewable electricity generation of this project, accorded with Major Project Status, is expected to power more than 3 million homes a year.

The development application is an important moment in this major undertaking by Sun Cable which plans to begin construction immediately after financial close in October 2023 and open commercial operations in 2027. The firm claims that the 70-year, $26 billion project would create around 1500 jobs during construction and 350 jobs during operations. “It will inject $8 billion into the local economy and generate over $1 billion in exports per annum. The provision of renewable energy to the NT will support the establishment of sustainable development precincts and power new low emissions manufacturing businesses,” its statement said. 

Sun Cable CEO David Griffin has indicated in previous interviews that the consortium seeks to develop more projects like the AAPL, perhaps even in India. A 450 GW target set for 2030 implies that a solar energy project of this scale might be possible here too.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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