Australia may host GW-scale PV module factory


From pv magazine Australia

The Singapore-based consortium behind the AUD 26 billion ($19.7 billion) Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) has filed an application with the Development Consent Authority of Australia's Northern Territory to build a facility that will manufacture Maverick solar array systems, designed by Sydney-based 5B.

The prefabricated, prewired Maverick system has been tapped as the module of choice for the AAPL project – a 14 GW solar farm and approximately 33 GWh battery energy storage system that will be constructed near Elliott, in the Barkly Region of Australia's Northern Territory.

Sun Cable said the first stage of the proposed manufacturing facility will pilot a semi-automated production line, which will provide opportunities to supply other solar farms across northern Australia with the Maverick solar array systems. Phase two of the development will expand the facility to manufacture systems for the AAPL and establish a logistics and distribution center to transport material and equipment by rail to Sun Cable’s proposed 14 GW solar farm site.

“This application is an important step in the ongoing development of the Australia-ASEAN Power Link, a solar energy infrastructure network that will provide Darwin and Singapore with competitively priced, dispatchable, high-volume renewable electricity from 2026 and 2027 respectively,” Sun Cable said.

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Sun Cable plans to build the manufacturing facility in Darwin’s East Arm Business Park – a location chosen due to its proximity to the city's port. It and said it will now work with ICN-NT to select a delivery partner for the project.

The proposed AAPL includes a 14 GW solar farm to be developed on a 12,000-hectare site at Powell Creek. It will be coupled with an estimated 33 GWh of battery storage. The project is expected to supply power to the Darwin region and to Singapore via a 4,500-km, high-voltage direct-current transmission network, including a 750-km overhead transmission line from the solar farm to Darwin and a 3,800-km submarine cable from Darwin to Singapore, via Indonesia. The project is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to power more than 3 million homes a year.

The development application is the latest milestone for the project. The Australian federal government has also included the project on its priority initiative list, while Sun Cable has already signed a project development agreement with the Northern Territory government.

While the outlook for the project is favorable, there has been no indication from the company that any nation has signed up to purchase power from it. However, Sun Cable remains confident, saying that construction of the project will begin immediately after financial close in October 2023, with commercial operations to commence in 2027.

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