A $30billion project to capture solar power in the Australian outback and deliver it to Singapore is in jeopardy after a disagreement between its billionaire investors, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest
Sun Cable, the company behind the project’s vast Northern Territory solar farm and 4,300km undersea cable system, entered voluntary administration on Wednesday.
Construction on the Northern Territory-based operation, touted as the world’s biggest green energy project, was due to begin in 2024.
It was originally hoped the project could create 2000 jobs, $2billion worth of Australian exports, and supply 15 per cent of Singapore’s electricity.
The $30billion project to capture solar power in the Australian outback and send it to Singapore is in jeopardy after a disagreement between its billionaire investors, Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured left, with wife Annie) and Andrew Forrest
Construction on the Northern Territory-based operation, touted as the world’s biggest green energy project, was due to begin in 2024. Pictured, an artist’s impression of the solar farm
But Mr Cannon-Brookes and Mr Forrest disagreed on several major issues about the project, known as the Australia-Asia PowerLink, the ABC reported.
They argued over the funding and direction of the company, the amounts of money that Sun Cable was spending and its failure to achieve key milestones linked to its venture capital funding agreement.
Mr Forrest’s privately owned Squadron Energy vetoed $60million worth of fundraising proposed by Mr Cannon-Brookes.
His alternative plan would have seen Squadron take over Sun Cable management.
The shareholdings of the company’s founders could also have been diluted.
The plan was rebuffed by shareholders and Mr Cannon-Brookes.
The Australia-Asia PowerLink was to include world’s longest undersea cable to carry the solar-generated electricity to Singapore, with Indonesia to be added at a later date
After Sun Cable failed to meet key milestones, Mr Forrest pitched a new plan that would have seen his company Squadron Energy take over the project’s management. Shareholders and Mr Cannon-Brookes rejected it
The collapse comes less than a year after the two billionaires invested $210million to bankroll the undersea cable.
The project involved building a 20 gigawatt (GW) solar farm on 12,000 hectares on a cattle station near Tennant Creek and capturing 42 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy storage in the world’s biggest battery network.
Then the world’s longest undersea cable would carry the solar-generated electricity to Singapore, with Indonesia to be added at a later date.
The company issued a statement that suggested the project is far from over. It spun the announcement as an opportunity.
‘The voluntary administration process will now unlock a path forward for the Company to access additional capital for continued development of its marque project’, the statement said.
The project’s voluntary administrators, FTI Consulting, are likely to seek new investment or could sell the business.
‘This project remains well placed for completion,’ claimed Sun Cable’s founder and CEO David Griffin.
It was hoped the massive project, based on a cattle station near Tennant Creek, could create 2000 jobs, $2billion of Australian exports and supply 15 per cent of Singapore’s electricity. Pictured, a stock photo of the NT
Mr Cannon-Brookes remains chairman of Sun Cable and in the statement he reaffirmed this commitment.
‘Sun Cable has achieved so much since it was founded in 2018. I’m confident it will play a huge role in delivering green energy for the world, right here from Australia.
‘I fully back this ambition and the team, and look forward to supporting the company’s next chapter,’ he said.
His personal investment company, Grok Ventures, said it has been prepared to make additional investments in Sun Cable.
‘In the circumstances, including where all but one shareholder agreed with the company’s funding strategy – the board was left with no other option, but to enter into voluntary administration,’ a statement from Grok said, 9 Newspapers reported.
There was no official comment from Mr Forrest or Squadron Energy with 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.