Major milestone for world’s biggest solar project


From pv magazine Australia

Plans continue to gather steam to develop a 10 GW solar farm and a 30 GW storage facility near Tennant Creek, in Australia's Northern Territory, in order to export solar power to Singapore via a submarine transmission link. On Thursday, the Northern Territory government and Sun Cable signed a project development agreement (PDA).

The Northern Territory government said the PDA provides a roadmap that will allow it to work in partnership with Sun Cable to finalize land tenure and commercial arrangements for the AAPL, ahead of the project’s financial close. Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the PDA is a big step forward.

“This project will put the (Northern Territory) on the international map when it comes to renewables,” he said. “This project will transform the territory into a renewable energy powerhouse.”

The solar farm and battery storage facility will be built across 12,000 hectares at Powell Creek station, about 70 km southwest of Elliott, in the Northern Territory’s Barkly region. As well as the region’s climatic advantages, the facility will capitalize on close access to road and rail infrastructure.

Once operational, power from what will be Australia’s largest renewable energy infrastructure project will be exported via a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission link connecting the precinct to the Darwin-Katherine Interconnected System (DKIS). Power will then be transported via a 3,800-km HVDC submarine cable to Singapore. The project is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 3 million homes a year.

“Through the Australia-ASEAN Power Link, Sun Cable seeks to generate and transmit dispatchable, competitively-priced, renewable energy at scale,” Sun Cable Managing Director David Griffin said. “This will provide affordable, reliable energy to support industrial growth in Darwin, as well as supplying up to 20% of Singapore’s electricity needs.”

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Economic boost

It is estimated the project will inject up to AUD 8 billion ($6.1 billion) into the regional economy, with about 1,500 jobs to be created during construction and 350 ongoing positions once operations begin. The AAPL will export AUD 1 billion worth of solar electricity per year upon completion.

Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy Eva Lawler said that the AAPL is a major success story for the territory.

“This agreement shows strong confidence for investing in the Northern Territory and investing in renewable energy, which is not only good for the environment, but good for the economy,” she said. “Locals can look forward to affordable energy that’s reliable and renewable by the end of the decade. We look forward to the next steps of this exciting project.”

Sun Cable has said construction for the project will begin immediately after financial close in October 2023, with commercial operations to commence in 2027. It has confirmed that Sydney-based solar module manufacturer 5B will supply prefabricated, redeployable modules for the project.

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