The proposed Australia-ASEAN Power Link project involves the construction of the world’s biggest PV solar farm. Image courtesy of AleSpa.
Guardian Geomatics was awarded the cable route survey contract for the project in May 2020. Image courtesy of Guardian Geomatics.
The AAPL project is expected to come online by the end of 2027. Image courtesy of 5B AUSTRALIA PTY LTD.

The proposed Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) is a massive renewable energy infrastructure project involving a 10GW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm and a 30GWh battery storage facility in northern Territory, Australia, and a 4,500km-long high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system to Darwin, Singapore and eventually Indonesia.

Estimated to cost approximately £12bn(A$22bn), the AAPL project will involve the world’s biggest PV solar farm, the world’s biggest battery storage facility, and one of the world’s longest HVDC submarine cables for a distance of approximately 3,711km.

Sun Cable, a Singapore-based company founded in 2018, is the owner and developer of this proposed ambitious project.

The Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) was granted the major project status by the federal government of the Commonwealth of Australia in July 2020 while the Northern Territory Government recognised it as a major project in June 2019.

Scheduled to come online by the end of 2027, the Sun Cable project is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs during the construction phase and up to 350 jobs during operations.

Project location and site details

The AAPLsolar farm along with the battery storage facility will be located in the Barkly region, near the town of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory province of Australia.

The PV solar arrays will occupy approximately 12,000ha and the solar farm site is known for excellent solar resources.

The project site lies adjacent to existing logistics infrastructure facilities including the railway, the Stuart Highway, and high capacity fibre optic cables.

The electricity from the solar power generation and storage facility will be transmitted through a 750km HVDC transmission line to Darwin.

From Darwin, the electricity will be transmitted to Singapore through approximately 3,711km of undersea HVDC cable.

Sun Cable project development timeline

Sun Cables is currently working on environmental approvals, design, and engineering of the project.

The environmental approvals are expected to be received by mid-2021 while the design and engineering works are expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

The construction works on the project are expected to be started after the financial closure in 2023 and the AAP project is expected to commence operations by the end of 2027.

Australia-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) project details

The AAPL integrated project is expected to deliver the world’s biggest dispatchable renewable electricity system.

The solar farm will be supported by a 30GWh storage facility for enabling the dispatch of renewable power24/7.

Apart from supplying a good amount of renewable electricity through a 750km-long overhead transmission line to Darwin for the domestic consumption in the Northern Territory, the AAPL project will also annually export approximately £1.1bn (A$2bn) worth of solar energy through an HVDC submarine cable to Singapore, connecting Australia into the ASEAN Power Grid.

The Sun Cable project is expected to serve approximately 20% of Singapore’s total electricity needs.

AAPL solar farm construction

Sun Cable is planning to build prefabricated solar arrays at a proposed new factory at Darwin factory. The prefabricated arrays from the Darwin facility will be transported by rail to the solar project site near Elliott.

Sun Cable investors

A major capital raise was completed for Sun Cable with the lead investment for the company coming from Grok Ventures and Squadron Energy in November 2019.

Squadron Energy subscribed to a 15% stake in Sun Cablewhile Grok Ventures subscribed to an undisclosed stake in the company.

Price Waterhouse Coppers (PwC)Australia provided advisory services for the capital raise for Sun Cable.

Contractors involved

Australian solar technology developer 5Bwas selected as a preferred technology partner for the production of modular, pre-fabricated, and plug & play solar arrays for the AAPL solar farm in August 2019.

Guardian Geomatics was awarded the cable route survey contract for the Australia-ASEANPower Link (AAPL)project in May 2020.

Guardian Geomatics will utilise the Offshore Solution vessel of its sister company guardian Offshore for conducting the route survey for the subsea HVDC cable from Darwin to Singapore.