Consultancies selected for world’s largest solar energy infra project

24 October 2021 3 min. read

One of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy ventures has taken its next step, with five consultancies selected for the Australia-Asia PowerLink project.

The delivery team for the groundbreaking $30 billion Australia-Asia PowerLink renewable energy project linking Northern Territory solar-generated electricity to Singapore has been named, with PwC and Marsh among the consultancies selected.

Once at full capacity, the ambitious Sun Cable project aims to deliver 3.2 gigawatts of dispatchable solar-generated electricity, harnessed from a vast 12,000 hectare solar farm north of Tennant Creek, and transported through 4,200 kilometres of submarine cable to Singapore.

Sun Cable project map

To put those numbers into perspective, the up to 20 GW of peak solar power generation is close to ten times greater than anything that currently exists, which will be supported by a 36-42 gigawatt-hours battery storage – Tesla’s famous big battery in South Australia has recently reached a capacity of 189 MWh.

Meanwhile, the 720-kilometres North Sea Link crossing the North Sea from Norway to the United Kingdom is currently the world’s longest HVDC subsea cable, at one sixth of the length of the Australia to Singapore link.

To help achieve this remarkable feat of engineering, Sun Cable – which has already received backing from two of Australia’s wealthiest billionaires in Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest – has now selected a consortium of international and local advisories as its Integrated Project Delivery Team, made up of PwC, insurance and risk giant Marsh, and global infrastructure, engineering and project management firms SMEC, Bechtel and Hatch.

“We are so proud to be helping harness Australia’s rich sunshine to power thousands of businesses and communities across Australia and Singapore,” said Tom Seymour, CEO of PwC Australia, which will serve as project advisor. “This complex and ambitious project is unlike anything previously developed. Australia-Asia PowerLink will help solve Australia’s carbon emissions footprint, (and) provide once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunities for communities.”

With construction expected to get underway in late 2023 and supply to Singapore to kick-off in 2027 (serving up to 15 percent of the nation’s demand), the touted economic and environmental benefits of the venture include a projected $8 billion boost to the Australian economies and approximately 1,500 jobs during the construction phase (mainly in the and Northern Territory).

Singapore contribution

“By unlocking the vast, world-class solar, and land resources that Australia has available, Sun Cable is creating the pathway for a new export industry, generating up to $2 billion per annum in exports for Australia,” said Michael Gunner, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Government.

Speaking on behalf of Marsh, which is providing risk management consultancy to the project, CEO of the Pacific region Nick Harris said: “This project deliver a large volume of renewable energy over a longer distance than ever before, which represents a seismic shift in the way Australia exports energy to the world. We are excited to be part of the team.”

The contribution to CO2 reduction goals is forecasted to be major, with modelling showing a 6 million tonnes per year reduction in Singapore’s carbon emissions, with a total abatement of 8.6 million tonnes.

“Surbana Jurong is very excited to be part of this multi-national project development team whose vision is in step with Singapore’s goal to intensify solar energy deployment,” said Wong Heang Fine, CEO of Surbana Jurong, which purchased project advisors SMEC for S$400 million in 2017.

James Phillis, CEO of SMEC for Australia and New Zealand added: “The Australia-Asia PowerLink will be the world’s largest solar energy infrastructure network and will be a game-changer for the renewable energy sector worldwide. As a member of the project delivery team, SMEC is excited to be a critical force in bringing this project to life.”