Australian billionaires put more money into US$15 billion solar power export project

17 03 2022 | 15:10

SYDNEY : Australia's two richest men joined a A$210 million (US$152 million) capital raising for an ambitious project to supply Singapore with solar power via an undersea cable, the company said on Monday (Mar 14).

Private companies of Andrew Forrest, founder of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals Group, and Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of software maker Atlassian, upped their investments, the parties said, as the Sun Cable project inches toward becoming a supplier of renewable energy to the region.

Forrest is Australia's richest man and Cannon-Brookes is Australia's second richest, according to the 2021 Rich List from the Australian Financial Review.

Their involvement in the project reflects a mutual interest in playing a part in a global transition to sustainable energy, although their disclosed contributions leave it unclear how the project, which has been costed at more than A$20 billion (US$14.5 billion), will ultimately be bankrolled.

"Sun Cable's vision will transform Australia's capability to become a world-leading generator and exporter of renewable electricity and enable decarbonisation," said Forrest in a statement. "This capital raise is a critical step."

Cannon-Brookes, who recently failed in an attempt to buy top Australian power producer AGL Energy with plans to speed up its exit from fossil fuel, said the raising "brings Australia one step closer to realising our renewables exporting potential".

Sun Cable says its Australia-Asia Power Link will from 2027 harness solar energy from the world's largest solar farm and battery facility in Australia's Northern Territory, and export it via a 5,000km undersea transmission system to Singapore and beyond.

The project aims to provide Singapore with up to 15 per cent of its energy requirements. Indonesia last September granted the company a permit to conduct an underwater survey starting immediately after it committed to investing US$2.5 billion in the country.

"This capital raise will enable the delivery of renewable solar power from Australia to Singapore, advance our other multi gigawatt scale projects, and support the progress of key facilitating assets," Sun Cable boss David Griffin said.

The company was not immediately available for comment about how it would achieve its full funding requirements.

The company in 2019 said Cannon-Brookes and Forrest had injected less than US$50 million in the project. It did not specify their individual contribution in the latest round.

(Photo:Ben Makori)