Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) is a proposed intercontinental renewable energy generation and transmission project that will supply green electricity from Australia to Singapore, by way of Indonesia. It is one of the biggest renewable energy infrastructure projects in the world.
The developer of AAPowerLink is Sun Cable, a renewable energy company founded in 2018.
The project will deliver power generated from the world’s biggest solar farm and battery storage facility, to be built in the Northern Territory, Australia, to Darwin, Australia, and then on to Singapore through overhead and undersea cables.
Sun Cable aims to harness the energy potential in Australia, which has the world’s second highest per capita solar resource, and ensure a 24/7 renewable power supply to Darwin and Singapore.
The AAPowerLink project is estimated to involve an investment of A$30bn ($22.54bn). The financial closure for the intercontinental power grid project is expected in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023.
Onshore construction works for the project are anticipated to begin in late 2023. The electricity transmission to Darwin and Singapore is scheduled to commence in 2026 and 2027, respectively. The project is expected to reach full capacity in 2028.
Australia-Asia PowerLink project location
The solar farm and battery storage facility of the AAPowerLink project will be located on 12,000ha of land near Powell Creek Telegraph Station. The location is approximately 70km south-west of the town of Elliott in the Northern Territory.
The Powell Creek site is a favourable location, as it is claimed to be one of the most consistently sunny places in the world. It also has flat land, which is ideal for the installation of solar panels.
The proximity of the site to a railway corridor will allow for easy transportation of project equipment.
Australia-Asia PowerLink project details
The major components of the AAPowerLink project include a solar farm, with a capacity ranging between 17GW and 20GW, a battery energy storage system, with a capacity between 36GWh and 42GWh, and a 5,000km-long high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system.
The solar farm precinct will include a voltage source converter (VSC). VSCs and utility-scale batteries will also be installed in Darwin and Singapore.
The project is expected to supply approximately 3.2GW of dispatchable electricity a year to Singapore.
The transmission system will include an 800km-long overhead line to Darwin and 4,200km undersea cable system from Darwin to Singapore.
The electricity from the solar farm and battery facility will be transmitted along the railway corridor to Livingstone, south of Darwin. It will then be transmitted to Murrumujuk, on the Gunn Point Peninsula.
A converter station and battery facility are proposed to be constructed on a 55ha site near Murrumujuk. The power transmission between Murrumujuk and Singapore will be through underground and subsea cables.
The Indonesian Government recommended the subsea cable transmission route for the AAPowerLink project through Indonesian waters in September 2021. Sun Cable also received approval from Indonesia to undertake a subsea cable survey.
The AAPowerLink project is estimated to offset 8.6 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions a year. Approximately 2.5Mt of CO₂ emissions reduction is expected to be achieved in Darwin, while the emissions reduced in Singapore will be approximately 6Mt.
The project will provide a stable and secure energy supply to Singapore, which currently depends on gas for about 95% of its electricity generation. It is expected to meet up to 15% of Singapore’s electricity demand.
AAPowerLink is expected to generate 1,500 construction jobs, 350 operational jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs.
Indonesia will receive an investment of up to $2.58bn, including up to $1bn during the installation stage and $1.58bn to meet operational expenditure.
Sun Cable selected a project delivery team led by Bechtel, an engineering company based in the US. Other members of the team are Hatch, SMEC, Marsh and PwC.
Hatch is a global multidisciplinary management, engineering and development consultancy that will be responsible for the HVDC transmission part of the project.
Part of the Surbana Jurong Group, SMEC will provide engineering consulting services for the project’s solar farm.
Insurance broker and risk advisor Marsh was selected for risk management, while PwC will offer project advisory services.
Based in Australia, 5B is a solar solutions provider that will supply its ground-mount solar solution, 5B Maverick™. A solar array manufacturing facility will be established in Darwin to manufacture Maverick pre-fabricated solar arrays for the project.
EnviroSolutions & Consulting (ESC), a company based in Singapore, was appointed to provide environmental consultancy services to help secure permits for the project. It also prepared environmental and social impact assessment documents.
EcOz Environmental Consulting was also contracted to prepare an environmental impact statement for the project.
Donald Cant Watts Corke, an Australian firm, was contracted to provide quantity surveying services.
Guardian Geomatics completed the cable route survey for the Australian section of the AAPowerLink in December 2020. Its contractual scope also included surveys in Singaporean and Indonesian waters.