Billionaires tip more cash into project to export solar energy to Singapore

Australia's Sun Cable plans to lay a 4,200km high-voltage cable to supply enough electricity to meet 15 per cent of Singapore's demand. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest have committed more cash to a A$30 billion (S$30 billion) project to export solar power from Australia's Northern Territory to Singapore via an undersea cable.

Australia's Sun Cable has completed a A$210 million Series B funding round with existing shareholders to accelerate the progress of the Australia-Asia PowerLink, as well as other projects in its portfolio, the company said in a statement on Monday (March 14). The fund-raising was led by Mr Cannon-Brookes' investment group Grok Ventures and Mr Forrest's Squadron Energy.

Sun Cable plans to lay a 4,200km high-voltage cable to supply enough electricity to meet 15 per cent of Singapore's demand from a giant solar and battery complex deep in the Outback. The project will also supply the northern Australian city of Darwin when it starts operating in 2027.

The company now has sufficient funding to take it to financial close on the project by the end of 2023, Sun Cable chief executive officer David Griffin said in a phone interview.

A formal process was under way with Singapore's Energy Market Authority to obtain necessary import licences, Mr Griffin said, adding that he expected progress on that front by the end of this year. 

Mr Cannon-Brookes said in a statement that the fund-raising brings Australia one step closer to realising its "renewables exporting potential".

"We can power the world with clean energy and Sun Cable is harnessing that at scale," he said.

Mr Cannon-Brookes has been a vocal campaigner for the clean energy transition in Australia, which still gets around 60 per cent of its power from coal, teaming up with investment giant Brookfield last month in a failed bid for generation company AGL Energy. The partners had planned to accelerate the closure of AGL's coal-fired plants and replace them with renewables.

Mr Forrest is looking to transform his iron ore empire into a major clean energy producer over the next decade, and has been scouring the planet for opportunities to invest in renewables and green hydrogen projects.

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