Iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest has joined Mike Cannon-Brookes as a lead early backer of the $20 billion-plus Sun Cable project set to drive Asia's transition to cleaner energy.
The pair are the biggest of a group of individual investors that have jointly invested less than $50 million in the ambitious project, which would export solar power generated in outback Australia to Singapore.
"It's really just a meeting of minds and a common purpose, and the broader recognition that we have a huge energy transition to undertake, which is a vastly larger task than people appreciate," said David Griffin, chief executive of Sun Cable.
Mr Forrest's private company Squadron Energy, which is also backing an LNG import project in NSW, and Mr Cannon-Brookes' Grok Ventures are joint lead investors in the oversubscribed capital raising. The other investors have not been disclosed.
Mr Forrest said Australia's potential to be at the centre of Asia's transition to clean energy presents the Australian economy with enormous opportunities, "not just for reducing emissions but also for the economic march of our nation and global competitiveness".
"Sun Cable’s Australia-Singapore Power Link project has the potential to be an important part of this nation-building journey," he said on Wednesday.
Mr Cannon-Brookes, who revealed in an exclusive interview with The Australian Financial Review in September that he was backing the project, described the venture as "massively exciting with world-changing potential".
“In a carbon-constrained world, Australia should be a winner," he said.
"We have the resources, the ingenuity and the drive to get it done – we just have to put it all together. If we nail this, we can build a new export industry for Australia, create jobs and set our economy up for the future."
The funding will underpin early development work for the project, which would link Darwin with Singapore via an underwater power cable. It would help progress the venture towards financial close, targeted for late 2023.
The project, which was revealed earlier this year, involves a 10 gigawatt solar farm and circa 22 gigawatt-hour battery storage plant, to be built near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. Power would be transmitted through a high-voltage, direct-current 4500 kilometre interconnector to Singapore, which would include a fibre-optic cable.
Squadron chief executive Stuart Johnston said part of the attraction of the project was its use of existing technology that had not been applied at such a scale before, rather than relying on processes yet to be developed.
Source: Australian Financial Review
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