The Australia-Asia PowerLink is a private proposal that captures northern Australia’s comparative advantage in producing and providing zero emission electricity to the Darwin region and Singapore. This would place downward pressure on electricity prices in the Darwin region for residential and industrial customers, reduce Australia’s GHG emissions and develop a new renewable electricity export industry for northern Australia. Indirect benefits to Australia would include an uplift in economic activity from spin-off industries to support the proposal’s construction and operation, as well potentially catalysing new industry investment to take advantage of lower energy costs.
The Australia-Asia PowerLink (https://suncable.energy) is a large-scale solar farm, energy storage and transmission system to provide renewable electricity to the Northern Territory and to export to Singapore. It includes:
- a Solar Precinct in the Barkly region of the Northern Territory, covering 12,000 hectares that generates 17-20 Gigawatt (GW) (peak) from the solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays. As a comparison, Loy Yang in Victoria (A and B), which is Australia’s largest power station, has a capacity of 3.6 GW, although the power generated per GW of capacity is higher for coal-fired power than for solar PV;
- 36-42 GW hours of energy storage;
- an 800km, 3 GW high voltage direct current (HVDC) overhead transmission line from the Solar Precinct to near Darwin;
- provision of approximately 800 Megawatts (MW) of electricity to the Darwin region. By comparison, Territory Generation, which is the largest electricity producer in the Northern Territory, has capacity of approximately 600 MWs; and
- provision of 1.75 GW of electricity to Singapore, via a 4,200km subsea cable, expected to represent up to approximately 15% of Singapore’s energy needs.
Northern Territory large scale solar generation was included as an Early-stage Proposal on the Infrastructure Priority List in 2021, recognising the opportunity to harness this advantage by developing large-scale, dispatchable renewable energy generation, with transmission infrastructure to supply domestic and export markets.
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.