Aussie billionaire urges overhaul of collapsed mega project to send solar power to Singapore

Sun Cable was working on a $28 billion project to supply solar power from northern Australia to Darwin and Singapore. PHOTO: SUNCABLE.ENERGY

MELBOURNE – Iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest called on Thursday for an overhaul of a A$30 billion (S$28 billion) project to send solar power from Australia to Singapore that collapsed after he and tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes split over funding plans.

Singapore-based Sun Cable, largely owned by Mr Forrest’s private company Squadron Energy and Mr Cannon-Brookes’ private company Grok Ventures, appointed voluntary administrators this week, less than a year after raising A$210 million for the Australia-Asia PowerLink project.

In Squadron’s first public comments since the collapse was announced on Wednesday, the company said the project “requires vision and precise execution”.

“Squadron Energy believes in the vision but believes the manner in which the project is delivered needs urgent change,” Squadron chairman John Hartman said in an e-mailed statement.

The project involves building a 20-gigawatt solar farm, the world’s biggest energy storage facility and the world’s longest undersea cable, 4,200km long, to deliver power to Singapore and Indonesia.

“Exceptional governance practices and world-class project delivery expertise, as well as pursuing bankable technologies, will be required to make the project a reality,” Mr Hartman said.

Mr Cannon-Brookes, the co-owner who in 2019 called the project “completely bats*** insane” when he first invested in it, on Wednesday said he still fully backed the project’s ambition and team.

Australian Energy Minister Chris Bowen on Thursday also expressed confidence that the project would eventually go ahead with a new funding structure, after having spoken to “very senior people” in Sun Cable. “I remain very upbeat and excited about Sun Cable’s future,” Mr Bowen told reporters.

He said Sun Cable, which had hoped to begin construction in 2024, is crucial to Australia’s ambition to become a major renewable energy exporter.

The administrators of Sun Cable at FTI Consulting declined to comment. On Wednesday, they said the next steps would most likely involve seeking expressions of interest to recapitalise or to sell the business. REUTERS

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