With Indonesia’s authorization of a subsea route, an Australian solar cable project is moving forward

With Indonesia’s approval of the subsea cable route via the archipelago, which is an Australian solar project on a large-scale that intends to supply up to 15% of Singapore’s power demands, it has moved a step closer to reality. The Sun Cable project, worth A$30 billion (S$29.5 billion), aims to bring green power to Singapore through a 4,200-kilometer cable from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The Indonesian government consented to the path for HVDC (direct high-voltage current) cables on Thursday (September 23). Sun Cable was granted permission to undertake subsea surveys in the Indonesian waters to chart the underwater path to Singapore.

“The Indonesian government took a long time and put in a lot of effort to find the best path for the cables, and it finally happened. That implies we’ll be able to conduct the undersea survey, “David Griffin, Sun Cable’s chief executive officer, informed The Straits Times.

According to him, the 740-kilometer undersea survey for cables’ route across Australian seas is already complete. As part of the Australia-Asia PowerLink project, Sun Cable would invest US$2.5 billion (S$3.4 billion) in Indonesia.

The firm will not provide renewable energy to Indonesia directly. However, it has pledged roughly $1 billion in direct investments for equipment and services, as well as an extra US$1.5 billion in the operational expenditure over the project’s lifetime, such as the establishment of a maritime repair station.

“We expect this project to have a long-term impact on our economy via various procurement programs that will profit the sector and the government’s earnings,” Indonesia’s coordinating minister in charge of the maritime and investment, Luhut Panjaitan, was quoted as saying in Jakarta on Thursday by Agence France-Presse.

One of the globe’s largest solar farms, encompassing 12,000 hectares at Powell Creek Station, roughly 800 kilometers south of Darwin, will provide the energy. The project is expected to generate between 17 – 20 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of power, with a portion of that being stored on-site in the world’s largest battery, with a capacity of 36 to 42 gigawatt-hours.

Smaller batteries are being developed for Singapore and Darwin to provide reliable power at all times of the day and night. To put this in perspective, the Singapore government wants to quadruple solar capacity to 1.5 GWp by 2025 before increasing to 2 GWp by 2030. This would power almost 500,000 four-room flats and would meet around 4% of Singapore’s current electricity demand.

Griffin said the company had spent the last year or two analyzing where solar and storage technology will be in the second part of the development process, which is set to begin in early 2024, as well as getting a better understanding of client needs in Singapore.

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