Billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes is making new progress on plans to export clean energy from Australia to Singapore through a 4,200-kilometer (2,610-mile) submarine cable after taking control of the stalled project.
Cannon-Brookes’s Grok Ventures completed the acquisition of SunCable from administration and is advancing talks with authorities in both Singapore and Indonesia, the investment firm said Thursday. Revised plans envisage building a manufacturing plant for high voltage subsea cables to serve both the project and energy transmission developments globally.
The plan “has all the component parts to make the next great Australian infrastructure initiative possible,” Cannon-Brookes said in a statement. “There’s huge upside for both Australia and our neighbors.”
Under a first stage, a vast solar farm in Australia’s Northern Territory — forecast by Grok to become the world’s largest — would deliver at least an initial 900 megawatts of electricity supply to local industry around Darwin and 1.7 gigawatts for export to Singapore. The project aims to subsequently add a further 3 gigawatts for Australian customers.
SunCable has been touted as among solutions to help Asia’s fossil-fuel dominated economies — particularly those with limited space for solar and wind farms — switch to cleaner electricity sources. Original developers saw the proposal as part of a potential super-grid spanning Japan to India.
The initiative, which had an early price tag of A$30 billion ($19 billion), went into voluntary administration in January following a dispute between Cannon-Brookes and fellow billionaire Andrew Forrest, then also an investor. Forrest — an advocate of exporting clean energy as green hydrogen or ammonia — argued the undersea cable plan wasn’t commercially viable.
SunCable’s proposal involves the use of existing technologies, and a high level of customer interest in Singapore shows others consider the strategy to be feasible, Cannon-Brookes told reporters on a briefing call. “It is by far, I think, the cheapest way to export energy from Australia in volume and at affordable prices,” he said.
Grok aims to lodge a submission with Singapore’s Energy Market Authority for a conditional energy import license this month, according to Cannon-Brookes. Negotiations are ongoing with Indonesia over the use of its territorial waters to lay cables.
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