A $30 billion project to capture solar power in the Australian outback and supply it to Singapore is jeopardized after a disagreement between its billionaire investors, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest
Sun Cable, the company behind the project’s sprawling Northern Territory solar park and 4,300-mile submarine cable system, voluntarily went into operation on Wednesday.
Construction on the Northern Territory-based operation, touted as the world’s largest green energy project, is set to begin in 2024.
It was originally hoped that the project could create 2,000 jobs, $2 billion in Australian exports and provide 15 percent of Singapore’s electricity.
The $30 billion project to capture solar energy in the Australian outback and send it to Singapore is jeopardized after a disagreement between billionaire investors, Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured left, with wife Annie) and Andrew Forrest
Construction in the Northern Territory, touted as the world’s largest green energy project, is set to begin in 2024. The photo shows an artist’s impression of the solar park
But Mr Cannon-Brookes and Mr Forrest disagreed on some key issues about the project, known as the Australia-Asia PowerLink, the ABC reported.
They argued over the company’s funding and direction, the amounts Sun Cable was spending, and the inability to hit key milestones associated with the venture capital funding deal.
Mr. Forrest’s privately owned Squadron Energy vetoed $60 million in fundraising proposed by Mr. Cannon-Brookes.
Under his alternate plan, Squadron would have taken over management of Sun Cable.
The holdings of the founders of the company could also have been diluted.
The plan was rejected by shareholders and Mr. Cannon-Brookes.
The Australia-Asia PowerLink would include the world’s longest submarine cable to carry solar-generated electricity to Singapore, with Indonesia to be added at a later date
After Sun Cable failed to meet key milestones, Mr. Forrest came up with a new plan whereby his company Squadron Energy would take over project management. Shareholders and Mr. Cannon-Brookes rejected it
The collapse comes less than a year after the two billionaires invested $210 million to fund the submarine cable.
The project involved building a 20 gigawatt (GW) solar farm on 12,000 acres at a cattle station near Tennant Creek and capturing 42 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy storage in the world’s largest battery grid.
Then the world’s longest submarine cable would bring solar-generated electricity to Singapore, with Indonesia to be added at a later date.
The company released a statement suggesting the project is far from over. It saw the announcement as an opportunity.
“The voluntary administration process will now open a path forward for the company to access additional capital for further development of its brand project,” the statement said.
The voluntary managers of the project, FTI Consulting, are likely looking for new investments or could sell the company.
“This project remains well positioned for completion,” said David Griffin, founder and CEO of Sun Cable.
It was hoped the massive project, based on a cattle station near Tennant Creek, could create 2,000 jobs, generate $2 billion in Australian exports and provide 15 percent of Singapore’s electricity. In the photo a stock photo of the NT
Mr. Cannon-Brookes remains chairman of Sun Cable and reaffirmed this commitment in the statement.
“Sun Cable has achieved so much since it was founded in 2018. I am confident it will play a major role in bringing green energy to the world here from Australia.
“I fully support this ambition and the team and look forward to supporting the next chapter of the business,” he said.
His personal investment company, Grok Ventures, said it was willing to make additional investments in Sun Cable.
“In the circumstances, including when all but one of the shareholders agreed to the company’s financing strategy, the board had no choice but to voluntarily subscribe,” said a statement from Grok. 9 Newspapers reported.
There was no official comment from Mr Forrest or Squadron Energy on the Sun Cable announcement.
The project was formally recognized by the Northern Territory Government in 2019.
Daily Mail Australia approached Mr Forrest’s company, Squadron Energy, for comment.