As of 2019, the share of Australia’s renewables is increasing mainly due to the consistent uptake of solar power in the residential and commercial sector. This is a well known fact. However, the concept of “energy as export” from the country. The Sun Cable solar project in Northern Territory is such an ambitious undertaking to power singapore through the Australian outbacks.
Currently, 95% of the island nation of Singapore is powered by the expensive liquid natural gas. With a total land area of 721 sq kilometers, Singapore is at 190th position when it comes to ranking by country’s land mass. This puts a pressure on the country’s capacity to uptake solar power on a large scale like Australia or India. This is where the concept of Sun Cable project comes into the picture. Located at the Tenant Creek in Northern Territory, Sun Cable project will produce one-fifth of the island’s energy requirements. The solar PV array is spread over 15,000 hectares and will generate around 3GW of energy that will be exported to singapore via 3,800 kms of HVDC cables. The project will also have a battery backup to minimize contingencies and to balance peak demands.
Sun Cable Project, AREH and Future
After completion, this will be one of the largest utility-grade solar farms in the planet. The electricity generated here is first send to the NT grid. From here, majority of the energy will be exported by means of undersea cables to Singapore. Costing over $20 billion, it is at the early stages of design, with commissioning somewhere in the late 2020s. Another example of such an energy export project is the Asian Renewable Energy hub (AREH). It encompasses a 6,500 sq. km of land in East Pilbara, WA and is a mix of 15 GW of wind turbines and solar power. With a development phase of 6-8 years, AREH can power the Pilbara region and generate hydrogen for export to Japan and South Korea.
The concept of clean energy exports is tricky. It has to take into consideration the energy footprint from construction to operation and maintenance of every element in the life cycle of project. However, proper implementation of renewable energy export designs like Sun Cable can not only foster our economy but also reduce the carbon footprint that we create due to fossil fuel trades.