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Australia’s Failed Solar Megaproject Is Up for Sale

The Australia-Asia PowerLink solar megaproject that was supposed to send solar power from Australia to Singapore will be put up for sale by the end of the month, Reuters has reported, citing the administrators of the venture.

Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink was perhaps the most ambitious renewable energy project in Australia yet. With an original price tag of some $13 billion, the project would involve the construction of a massive solar farm in Australia’s Northern Territory with a capacity of 10 GW, later raised to 20 GW, which would make it the largest solar farm in the world.

The power produced at the farm would then be sent to Singapore via an undersea cable to Singapore or stored at a 50-MW battery storage facility. The undersea cable would be the longest in the world, per plans.

The project was led by two billionaires: Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder and co-chief executive of software company Atlassian, and Andrew Forrester, the mining magnate. The two locked horns over the costs and management of the project and last week media reported that Sun Cable had gone into voluntary administration.

The costs of the Australia-Asia PowerLink Project “just kept rising by 10%, 50%, 100%,” Fortescue Metals’ Andrew Forrest told CNN this week, adding “That isn’t sustainable. That’s what I would expect with inexperienced management and a board of directors who have never done large projects.”

Indeed, the price tag of the Australia-Asia PowerLink Project has gone up from the original $13 billion to $24 billion, as quoted in the CNN story. Yet in addition to costs, the two billionaires are at odds on the whole subsea cable business, per the Reuters report, with Cannon-Brookes backing it and Forrest opposing that part of the project.

The sale process should take about three months, according to Sun Cable’s administrator. Both Cannon-Brookes and Forrest are expected to bid for the business.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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