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Australian solar power via cable of 4,500 km (!) To Singapore?

Project developer Sun Cable aims to build a solar park of no less than 10 gigawatts in Australia, for a stable supply of electricity to Singapore. In 2027, the first solar power should make the trip of 4,500 kilometers.

Singapore is sunny, has a surface area of ​​726 square kilometers and a population of 5.7 million. Australia is even sunnier, with a surface area of ​​7,700,000 square kilometers and 25 million inhabitants.

That big difference is the logic behind the idea of ​​Sun Cable. With 10 gigawatts of solar panels, Sun Cable expects to supply 20% of Singapore’s electricity consumption annually. In Singapore itself, such a solar park would cover 20% of the entire country. Not less than 4,500 km away, the required 120 square kilometers is “only” 0.0016% of the Australian territory.

“In a global economy where CO2 emissions must be kept to a minimum, Australia should be among the winners,” said Mike Cannon-Brookes, tech billionaire and one of the first investors in Sun Cable. “This is an incredibly exciting project, with potential that can change the world. If we can do this, Australia will have a new export industry. ”

How realistic is a 4,500 kilometer submarine cable to Singapore?

In 2019, Australia installed a total of 6.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar panels in parks and on roofs. A solar park of 10 GW, to be built before 2027, is therefore a gigantic but not inconceivable project.

Also a sea cable of 4,500 kilometers has never been built but is just within the imaginable. The NorNed cable between Groningen in the Netherlands and Norway is probably the largest in the world at 580 km and 0.7 GW. Sun Cable is targeting a 2.5 GW cable to transport the electricity to Singapore. That is therefore 3.5 times the transmission capacity and 8 times the length of the NorNed cable, which has been operational since 2008, however.

The fact that Sun Cable is linking the intended solar park of 10 GW to a cable of “only” 2.5 GW is in turn related to the crucial third and most megalomaniac but still conceivable aspect of the project; a battery with a storage capacity of 20 to 30 gigawatt hours, about 20 times larger than the largest battery projects currently under construction.

The estimated total project cost – solar panels, cable and battery together – approximates 20 billion dollars. The tricky part is that Sun Cable cannot just practice with a more modest project. There is no point in developing a sea cable of this length with less power. Since the sea cable is necessarily very expensive, high utilization is crucial. A high utilization rate with solar panels is only feasible with production overcapacity and an enormous battery.

Source:, 3 August 2020

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