Sun Cable eyes 4GW Singapore power purchase
Sun Cable, one of the world’s biggest renewable energy projects, has called for expressions of interest from potential customers in Singapore, after the Asian nation said it would import up to 4 gigawatts of electricity by 2035.
The 4200-kilometre cable project, which is backed by entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest, will supply renewable energy generated at a solar farm near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory to Darwin and Singapore.
Singapore’s announcement on Tuesday that it would import up to 4GW of electricity by 2035 showed a strong commitment to reduce emissions, Sun Cable said.
The group wants to form strategic partnerships to provide electricity into Singapore and plans to hold talks with potential customers over the next few months.
“Singapore has a substantial demand for renewable energy from corporations based in Singapore,” Sun Cable chief commercial officer Mitesh Patel said.
“This includes major energy users across several industries. Having started our engagement with many of these companies, we are seeing an overwhelming response.”
Sun Cable’s solar farm will be backed up by the world’s largest battery to ensure reliable supply, with storage also in Darwin and Singapore.
The cable, which is due to begin construction in late 2023 and start supplying power to Singapore in 2027, should reduce total carbon emissions by 8.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year, according to Sun Cable estimates.
The project – formally known as Australia-Asia PowerLink – will also involve up to $US2.58 billion ($3.6 billion) of investment within Indonesia.
International engineering and construction firm Bechtel, transmission specialist Hatch and PwC Australia are part of the team delivering the project.
Diversification of its energy sources is a key plank in Singapore’s strategy to halve peak emissions by 2050 and get to net zero “as soon as possible” in the second half of this century.
The city-state’s power sector accounts for about 40 per cent of emissions. About 95 per cent of Singapore’s electricity is generated using natural gas and this energy source will continue to dominate even as Singapore looks to ramp up renewable sources.
Solar is viewed as the promising alternative, at least in the near term. In addition to rooftop installations, Singapore has also got inventive, installing solar panels on temporary vacant land, sheltered walkways and on water. Earlier this year, Singapore installed one of the world’s largest floating solar farms, and it is also trialling vertical solar panels that can be installed on the external walls of buildings.
But even so, on an island just 728 square kilometres, options for local solar are limited, hence the decision to boost imports. The country will soon begin trials with 100MW of electricity imports from both Malaysia and Indonesia’s Pulau Bulan.
Spiking wholesale prices have brought grief to Singapore’s electricity retailers in recent weeks, with several players bowing out. This week Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said the transition to renewable energy, including imported electricity, may not mean cheaper power.
“While the cost of generation may be lower, the costs of transmission and backup, as well as necessary grid enhancements, will add to overall costs. This is an inevitable but necessary trade-off in the energy transition,” Mr Gan said.