Cannon-Brookes confirms investment in world’s biggest solar project

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Billionaire Atlassian co-founder confirms financial backing of $25bn dollar plan to build world’s biggest solar farm, and the world’s biggest battery too.

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Billionaire Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has confirmed his financial support of a $25 billion dollar plan to build a 3,000km undersea cable to export solar energy to Singapore from would be the world’s biggest solar farm in the Northern Territory.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review published on Wednesday, Cannon-Brookes said his investment vehicle, Grok Ventures, would invest as as-yet undisclosed amount in the 10GW Sun Cable project “along with a lot of other Australian entrepreneurs.” That possibility had been flagged previously by RenewEconomy.

The Australia Singapore Power Link is a key part of Northern Territory government-backed plans to build the massive 10GW solar farm and a potential 20-30GWh storage facility near Tennant Creek.

In comments to the AFR, Cannon-Brookes described the plan as a “completely batshit insane project” but added that the “engineering all checks out.”

Cannon-Brookes, whose Twitter exchange with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in early 2017 helped lead to the construction of the Tesla big battery in South Australia, suggested that Tesla would be the battery choice of the storage installation that would be 300 times the size:

“Elon assures me that his batteries will work at 50 degrees centigrade, which is what they need to do to work in Tennant Creek.” he told the paper.

“I’m backing it, we’re going to make it work, I’m going to build a wire.”

As we have reported, the Australia Singapore Power Link (ASPL) aims to supply renewable electricity to Darwin and Singapore via a high voltage direct current transmission – a plan first outlined by Beyond Zero Emissions last month, and which quickly attracted the attention of investment heavyweights including Cannon-Brookes.

See The 10GW solar vision that could turn Northern Territory into economic powerhouse  and listen to our Energy Insiders Podcast with BZE’s Eytan Lenko.

In July, the NT Labor government awarded the plans Major Project Status, and kicked off negotiations on a Project Development Agreement with developer Sun Cable, starting with the development of the solar and storage facility.

NT chief minister Michael Gunner said the PDA would provide the framework for Sun Cable and the NT government to progress the ASPL through the required approvals processes – starting with an Environmental Impact Statement and a Territory Benefit Plan.

In August, “plug and play” solar start-up 5B was tapped as the preferred technology partner for the massive project’s PV component.

On the subject of the cable, Cannon-Brookes told the AFR that the total project cost would be between $20-25 billion and would involve “a pretty amazing crew.”

“Call it half an NBN project – and a much more inspiring infrastructure project, if I may say so,” he said.

“[The NBN] is OK, good; it’s not great. This will be absolutely great – with world-leading engineering required all up and down. But we can do it.”

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