One of Australia’s most ambitious renewable energy projects has entered into voluntary administration after shareholders couldn’t come to a consensus on the future direction and funding of the plan to power Singapore using a 4,200-kilometer (2,600-mile) submarine cable.
Sun Cable’s massive project – a giant solar farm and export cable to Asia – may now be sold off.
The A$30 billion ($21 billion) Sun Cable, backed by billionaire climate crusader Mike Cannon-Brookes and iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest, will likely seek expressions of interest for a recapitalisation or sale of the entire business, the company said Wednesday. FTI Consulting’s Christopher Hill, David McGrath and John Park have been appointed as administrators, it said.
“The appointment followed the absence of alignment with the objectives of all shareholders,” Sun Cable said. “Whilst funding proposals were provided, consensus on the future direction and funding structure of the company could not be achieved.”
The two billionaires have been key proponents of increasing Australia’s climate ambitions. Cannon-Brookes last year became the biggest shareholder in AGL Energy Ltd. and has worked to hasten the utility’s exit from coal. Meanwhile, Forrest bought a major renewables developer and is seeking to transform his Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., a key global iron ore supplier, into a major producer of green metals and clean hydrogen.
“Sun Cable has achieved so much since it was founded in 2018,” Cannon-Brookes said in the statement. “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.”
The news marks a serious setback at a crucial juncture when the venture was pushing efforts to build support from customers and major investors to take a final investment decision eyed in 2024.
Sun Cable proposes the world’s largest solar farm, the world’s biggest battery, and the world’s longest undersea cable. The large-scale solar project aims to supply up to 15% of Singapore’s electricity needs by sending power via a 4,200km cable from Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory starting in 2027.
Solar power would be generated by one of the world’s largest solar plants at the Powell Creek Solar Precinct, 800km south of Darwin. The potential project, estimated to cost A$30 billion ($21.7 billion), is expected to generate between 17 and 20 gigawatt-peak (GWp) of electricity, some of which will be stored on site in what is targeted to be the world’s largest battery at 36 to 42 gigawatt-hours.
Smaller batteries are planned to be built in Darwin and Singapore, with the goal of supplying consistent power night and day.
Construction was expected to begin in 2024 with first electricity supply to Darwin targeted in 2026 and first supplies to Singapore in 2027. Full commercial operations are eyed by the end of 2028.
However, the future of the project remains in serious doubt after the billionaire shareholders clashed.