A company located in Australia has recently released its plans to construct the world's largest solar farm to provide energy to Singapore. When fully operating, the solar farm is predicted to reduce the nation's carbon emissions by approximately 11.5 million tons annually.
Recent reports state that the world's largest solar farm and battery could provide power to homes all across Singapore.
News of this project has yielded positive reactions as the desire for sustainable development for the sake of curbing climate change is continuously growing.
Challenges within the Indo-Pacific Region
Though Singapore is predominately known for its futuristic infrastructure, world-class food, and immaculate cities, a lesser-known fact about this island nation is that, despite its small size, it is one of the higher per capita carbon emitters in all of Asia. This is due predominately to the nation’s reliance on gas, with roughly 95% of its energy coming from that source. In an attempt to alter this, the country has recently announced its goal for a 36% reduction of carbon emissions - when compared to its 2005 standings- by 2030.
Though promising, its goal does pose some challenges as the density of the nation means there is little available land for alternative energy infrastructure. This reality remains a problem that many island-nations throughout Southeast Asia face. Though Singapore, in particular, has recently found ways to skirt around this obstacle, such as by installing a floating solar farm, it remains a significant challenge.
This will be an increasing problem considering the projected growth rate of energy demand throughout the region is 6% annually, amounting to 60% growth by 2040. With this in mind, Australian company Sun Cable is looking to take swift actions to provide alternative energy options to the region to lower the environmental impact and make electricity more accessible. Considering Australia's geographical proximity and the fact that it has the second-highest solar resource per capita in the entire world, the project is more understandable and has greater potential for success.
Energy, from Australia to Singapore
Sun Cable is "a multinational company founded in Australia and Singapore in 2018 by David Griffin, Mac Thompson, and Fraser Thompson." The business is heading this roughly $20 billion project, named the Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink), intending to bring cleaner energy to millions of people throughout the Indo-Pacific Region. The AAPowerLink will be the "world’s largest solar farm and battery storage facility in the Northern Territory."
When complete, the solar farm will provide Singapore with 15% of its energy needs by generating roughly 20 gigawatts of solar power. This also means the farm will be 10x more substantial than the Bhadla Solar Park in India, which is currently the largest solar farm in the world. In fact, it is said that the farm will be visible from space.
The AAPowerLink will work by having the solar farm located in Australia's Northern territory and connected to 500-miles of cable to carry the generated energy to the sea. The energy will then be transferred via 2600-miles of cable running below the seafloor on its way to Singapore.
Sun Cable's website outlines the plan’s three steps to completion: building the world's largest solar farm, building the world's largest battery and, finally, building the cables. It has currently achieved the following:
- Completed Series A Capital Raise
- Developed proprietary optimization software for the entire AAPowerLink system, including the Singapore and Darwin electricity markets
- Granted Major Project Status by both the Australian Commonwealth and NT governments
- Completed the 750km Australian section of the subsea survey
- Appointed PwC as Project Advisory Partner
Regarding environmental benefits, the energy transferred to Singapore will reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 11.5 million tons annually. As for Sun Cable, the company has stated that it will aim to minimize environmental impact as much as possible. The company is prepping an environmental impact statement for assessment by the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments.
Few other specifics have come to light regarding materials being used for the project or any projected environmental impact. There is potential for marine damage when the installation of the seafloor cables is underway, in addition to a myriad of other potential impacts such as emissions, waste, local habitat damage, and end-of-life disposal or disposition of the solar panels.
That said, we can presume from what we currently know of the company that it has taken this potential impact into consideration and determined the project will be a net positive outcome. Further, because 4 years remain until the projected completion date, we can expect a continued uncovering of sustainable alternatives that could be implemented into the project.
The company has also promised to work with local indigenous communities to mitigate any additional community impact and pay homage to the land.
This is all promising news as the prospect of sustainable development is currently underway, leaving room for hope and optimism for the future of climate change remediation.