SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s Northern Territory has given major project status to an ambitious plan to transmit 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar power to Singapore by subsea cable, its chief minister said on Saturday.
Michael Gunner said Singaporean firm Sun Cable’s proposed A$20 billion ($14 billion) solar farm near Tennant Creek would be the world’s largest, generating 10 gigawatts of power for both Darwin and Singapore.
Sun Cable plans to provide 3 gigawatts of power via 3,800 km (2,361.21 miles) of high voltage direct current transmission cable to Singapore, providing a fifth of the island nation’s electricity, according to the company’s website.
The Northern Territory - a 1.4 million sq km (540,000 sq miles) expanse of outback extending from the center of Australia to its northern coastline - awards major status to projects it sees as significant to the jurisdiction, helping companies with co-ordinated government approvals and a dedicated case manager.
Gunner said in an emailed statement that the government would negotiate a project development agreement with Sun Cable.
“Major Project Status for Sun Cable is an important step towards making this vision a reality,” he added.
No further details about the project were available.
Sun Cable could not be immediately reached for comment.
Dozens of international developers are looking to Australia to build wind and solar farms, spurred by abundant wind and sun, falling turbine and panel costs, and corporate demand for contracts to hedge against rising power tariffs.
This comes despite grid constraints and extra scrutiny from network operators to make sure new projects do not spark blackouts like those suffered two years ago.
Those expanding in Australia include France’s Neoen (NEOEN.PA), its compatriot Total-Eren (TOTF.PA), India’s Adani (ADEL.NS), U.S. utility AES Corp (AES.N) and Germany’s Sonnen are expanding in Australia.
A total of 14.7 GW of large-scale solar and wind projects worth A$20 billion were under construction or reached financial close last year, more than double 2017’s record, according to the Clean Energy Council, an advocacy group that promotes renewable energy.
Reporting Alison Bevege; Editing by Himani Sarkar