complementary and spill-over investment in skills and industries. The proposal has a stated benefit-cost ratio of 2.4 at a discount rate of 7%.
The proposal will have economic merit so long as it does not require considerable public subsidy.
The proposal's commercial viability relies on the proponent’s ability to lock in competitive offtake agreements. The strength of these commercials has not been assessed by Infrastructure Australia. While the proposal provides a range of benefits to overseas electricity consumers, only those costs and benefits that accrue to Australia have been factored into Infrastructure Australia’s assessment.
The proposal represents the largest solar farm ever developed globally, largest battery and longest undersea electricity cable. Delivery will undoubtedly be challenging but not insurmountable, utilising existing and continuously improving technology. Risks related to demand, technical, regulatory, environmental and cultural heritage will have to be actively managed. The proponent is continually working with the Northern Territory Government, with a current Project Development Agreement in place to ensure market capacity and supply chains can accommodate the project through construction and delivery phases. Also, specific legislation, the Solar Project (Australia-Asia PowerLink) (Special Provisions) Act 2022, was passed to provide certainty for the proposal, clarify and streamline existing processes, and support Sun Cable to secure project financing.
On 10 January 2023, FTI Consulting were appointed as voluntary administrators of Sun Cable Pty Ltd, the proponent of the Australia-Asia Powerlink proposal. The administrators announced their intent to recapitalise or sell that company. Sun Cable subsidiaries and the project entities for the Australia-Asia Powerlink were not in administration. On 5 September 2023, a sale process was completed allowing SunCable Holdings Pty Ltd to proceed with the development of the Australia-Asia PowerLink. Infrastructure Australia considers the proposal remains a worthwhile investment for Australia that responds to a nationally significant opportunity.
Additional planning steps continue to be necessary before final investment, including by securing environmental approvals, commercial agreements to underpin demand and final funding arrangements. The Northern Territory Environment Protection Agency is currently reviewing the proposal's environmental impact. Engagement with community stakeholders (including First Nations communities), on the planned design and outcomes is critical to ensuring the proposal is delivered successfully.
First added as a Stage One proposal 26/2/2021.
Refer to Infrastructure Glossary for terms and definitions.