Behind the “billionaire biffo” between Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest over the future of Sun Cable is a project that analysts are calling “visionary” but also “extremely ambitious”.
In Australia’s first major business story of the year, Sun Cable was placed into voluntary administration on Wednesday. It signaled the company could not make debt payments without another $60 million cash injection, with Forrest not “aligned” with other investors and ready to dig deep again.
A spokesman for Grok, the investment arm of Cannon-Brookes, said one day that it was committed to Sun Cable and that if there was an opportunity “to invest with a consortium of constructive partners, we would certainly consider it.”
Calling in administrators should not be interpreted as a sure sign that Forrest is leaving, a well-placed source said.
But Sun Cable’s flagship project, Australia’s Asia PowerLink, is now facing greater scrutiny from outsiders as they try to understand its viability and attract others to invest or even buy out existing shareholders.
The $30 billion project, billed as the “world’s largest solar infrastructure network,” would cover 12,000 hectares with solar panels, more than 40 times the size of Sydney’s central business district. The electricity would help power Darwin and cover 15% of Singapore’s electricity needs and part of Indonesia’s electricity needs with a 4,200 km long, 3.2 gigawatt cable.
The problems are technical, economic and even geopolitical. For some observers, David Griffin, founder and CEO of Sun Cable, is a veteran of the renewable energy industry. “He’s very competent at this sort of thing,” said one industry insider. “He loves obstacles, he loves challenges.”
Griffin has a lot of them. Georgious Konstantinou, a senior lecturer in energy systems at the University of New South Wales, said the length of the cable alone made the project “extremely ambitious”.
Konstantinou said a global desktop study conducted three years ago that looked into the feasibility of power interconnections between different regions was not promising for Sun Cable.
“It ended up making the connections in Australia much more complicated and more expensive than any other connection you’d have around the world,” he said, adding that the depth of water to go through – like the 2km-deep Timor Trench – was a key issue.
“So when Sun Cable says, ‘We can actually do this,’ it makes you wonder, what are the differences that they’re seeing versus what everyone else is thinking?”
According to Konstantinou, energy losses would be at least 15% even with the best high-voltage direct current technology. Boosters would also be needed to ensure voltage is maintained for end users such as Singapore.
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Singapore itself does not yet need to allocate funds or sign up as a customer. Sun Cable would have to offer the island nation an ultra-low price if it relies on a single supplier for 15% of its electricity, partly because it would need a backup in the event of a sudden outage, said Andrew Blaker, the company’s energy expert. said the Australian National University.
“If you took out 15% of Australia’s electricity supply in half a second, there could be problems with the Australian grid,” said Blakers, who describes himself as “cautiously skeptical” of Sun Cable’s prospects.
The Energy Market Authority of Singapore declined to comment on Sun Cable’s administration. However, a spokesperson told Guardian Australia that the authority had “received more than 20 proposals to import electricity from countries such as Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand”.
“We remain on track to meet our import target of 4 GW by 2035,” he said.
Blakers said Sun Cable faces “very strong competition from similar projects in northern Indonesia or Borneo hydropower because they are 50 to 500 kilometers across shallow seas from Singapore”.
Although the solar supply in these areas is not as good as in the Northern Territory, it is still pretty good, he said. “I just wish they would reverse the cable and send [the power] south” to the South Australian markets.
Dylan McConnell, also an energy expert at UNSW, said the $30 billion estimated cost and timing of the venture seemed unrealistic compared to projects being developed in Australia.
For example, the proposed Marinus link comprises a 250 km long HVDC link across the Bass Strait at an average depth of about 60 m. The two phases would have a combined capacity of 1.5 GW and a total cost of more than $3 billion. The 750 MW Phase 1 would be built by 2028, according to current plans.
“In contrast, the solar cable is almost 17 times longer, about twice as large and passes through the Timor Sea,” McConnell said. “It is also between the two countries and through Indonesian territorial waters and was apparently targeted for ‘first delivery’ to Singapore in 2027.”
“It’s hard to imagine how you could deliver that with about 20 GW of solar and about 40 GW-hours of storage for [$30 billion],” he said.
At home, solar parks like Sun Cable’s – with even bigger ones planned for the Pilbara and Nullarbor – would be “unimaginably large” and would have impacts on indigenous sacred sites and the environment, ANU management expert Jon Altman said. .
While indigenous groups are far more positive about renewable energy than extractives such as fossil fuel mining, there is a risk that communities will “simply be steamrolled by public opinion, political expediency and corporate power,” he said.
Sun Cable CEO Griffin accompanied Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Indonesia last year as part of a business delegation.
Despite the financial problems, Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said on Thursday that he was very optimistic and excited about the future of Sun Cable.
“Sun Cable has huge potential for Australia as a powerhouse for renewable energy exports,” Bowen said, adding that he had spoken to “very senior people at Sun Cable” in the past 24 hours.
“They are telling me that their ambitions have absolutely not diminished, their plans are not changing to make this a very significant investment in Australia,” he said.
However, whether this investment will ever come to fruition remains to be seen.
What are 3 negatives about solar energy?
Disadvantages of solar energy On the same subject : New photocatalytic membrane that can be cleaned using light energy.
- Conventional home solar doesn’t work at night.
- Home solar panels are not attractive.
- Installing DIY solar panels is difficult (if not impossible) for most homeowners.
- Not every roof configuration is ideal for maximum solar production.
- Solar energy production is not good for the environment.
What is the main downside of solar energy? High initial material and installation costs and long ROI (how solar costs have decreased over the last 10 years, solar is becoming more profitable every day) Needs a lot of space because efficiency is not yet 100%. There is no solar power at night, so a large battery bank is required.
What are the three pros and cons of solar energy?
What are the 3 types of solar energy?
Solar energy (for heating) Concentrated solar energy (for electricity) Solar photovoltaics (electricity) Read also : Solar panels: how to fix your energy bills while the sun shines.
What are the 4 main types of solar energy? Passive solar gain. Solar energy (for heating) Concentrated solar energy (for electricity) Solar photovoltaics (electricity)
What are the main types of solar energy technologies? There are two main types of solar energy technologies – Photovoltaics (PV) and Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP).
What are 3 types of solar energy that travels from the sun?
The most high-frequency waves emitted by the sun are gamma rays, X-rays, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The most harmful UV rays are almost completely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere. Less strong UV rays travel through the atmosphere and can cause sunburn.
What are the three types of solar radiation? UV radiation is divided into three main types based on wavelength: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC).
What are the 3 main ways we use solar energy?
The most commonly used solar technologies in homes and businesses are solar power for electricity generation, passive solar design for space heating and cooling, and solar water heating.
What are the three main parts of the solar system? Our solar system consists of our star, the Sun, and everything gravitationally bound to it—the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; dwarf planets like Pluto; tens of months; and millions of asteroids, comets and meteoroids.
What are the 3 ways energy from the sun travels to Earth?
Energy is transferred from the Sun to Earth through electromagnetic waves, or radiation. Most of the energy that passes through the upper atmosphere and reaches the Earth’s surface is in two forms, visible and infrared light. … This energy transfer can occur through three processes: radiation, conduction, and convection.
What are the 2 types of solar energy? Remember that the Sun gives off two types of energy: heat and light.
Are solar farms profitable?
Utilities (typically 1 MW – 2000 MW) sell their electricity to generate a profit for the owner. Solar farms typically cost $0.89 to $1.01 per watt to install. An average 1 MW farm can earn approximately $43,500 per year by selling its electricity to utilities.
How much land is needed for a profitable solar farm? For a typical solar installation, as a rule of thumb, approximately 100 square feet of floor space is required for every 1 kW of solar panels. This means that a 1 mW solar power plant requires an area of about 2.5 acres or 100,000 square feet.
How much money can a 5 acre solar farm make? Is it profitable? There are several factors to consider when determining the profit margin per acre of a solar farm, but in general, you can earn between $21,250 and $42,500 per acre each year.
Are solar parks a good investment? The average ROI for a solar farm is around 10% to 20%. The average one-megawatt solar farm generates $43,500 a year. Leasing agreements with solar developers generate an annual ROI of $250-$3,000 per acre. On average, solar farms take five to ten years to pay off.
Is a 10 acre solar farm profitable?
So how much money can a solar farm make for landowners? According to Landmark Dividend, the average profit per acre for a solar farm is between $21,250 and $42,500.
How much money can a solar farm make per acre? According to 2022 statistics, the average annual profit of a solar farm per acre is between $21,250 and $42,500. Of course, the actual profit largely depends on the location of the land, the number of solar panels and the amount of sunshine in the season.
How much energy does a 10 acre solar farm produce? A conservative estimate of the solar development footprint is that it takes 10 acres to produce one megawatt (MW) of electricity. This assessment covers the development of the site around the solar panels, including maintenance and access to the site.
Is 10 acres enough for a solar farm?
Generally, solar developers need at least 10 acres of usable land, or 200 acres for utility projects. A good rule of thumb is that 1 kilowatt (kW) of solar panels requires 100 square feet of surface area.
How much can a solar farm make per acre? How much solar farm revenue per acre per year should I expect? On average, you can expect a return on investment of $21,250 to $42,500 per acre annually. However, these figures vary depending on individual projects.
How big should a solar farm be? In some cases, 5 to 10 acres may be acceptable. But typically 30-40 acres are required for a medium-sized solar farm. And of course, solar developers are always happy to look at lots over 40 acres! Landowners with two or more neighboring lots may consider consolidating their lots.
What are the disadvantages of living near a solar farm?
Living next to a solar farm can have some downsides, including disturbance to local habitats, loss of farmland resulting in poor views, and potential electromagnetic waves from solar panels. Although no power source is perfect, solar energy is known as the safest source of energy.
What are the negative effects of solar farms? The clearing and use of large areas of land for solar installations can harm native vegetation and wildlife in a number of ways, including habitat loss; interfering with precipitation and runoff; or direct contact resulting in injury or death.
Are there health risks to living near a solar farm? Electricity from solar panels and the electricity transmitted to the power grid emits extremely weak electromagnetic fields. Exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields has been extensively studied and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that it is harmful to human health.
Do solar farms decrease property values?
Using data from CoreLogic, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the US Census Bureau, this study identifies a 12% statistically significant increase in sales value associated with high-income housing located within three miles of a solar farm.
How does the sun affect the value of my property? When you sell your house, these better savings equate to higher profits. On average, homes with solar panels sell for about 4 percent more than homes without solar, according to Zillow. This means an added value of about $9,200.
Will a solar farm hurt my property value? 4) Study: Solar Farms Reduce Home Value. “Many homeowners have argued that utility-scale solar will negatively impact their property values, and this study validates their concerns,” he said. â€œUser-scale solar development is clearly not appropriate in an established residential area.â€
Do solar panels decrease neighbors property values?
There is little data on solar farms to support the assumption that proximity alone reduces home values. However, there is plenty of data to suggest that solar farms have little or no impact on nearby property values.
How far should you live from a solar farm?
The sharpest is for homes within 0.1 miles (528 feet) of a solar farm, where a 7% drop in property values was documented, but. The harmful effects extend up to one mile.
What is it like to live near a solar farm? You can enjoy cheap and reliable energy, job opportunities, and these facilities are much quieter than other types of power plants. But they also cause habitat destruction, are unsightly, can reduce the value of your property, and have serious health effects for some people.
Do solar farms damage the soil?
Only a small amount of aluminum is released into the soil from the solar system and has no negative effect on the earth. Although safe around crops, solar systems are also a great way to help prevent land degradation while making good use of overworked fields.
Is having solar power worth it? Homeowners who install solar energy systems can reap several benefits: lower electric bills, smaller carbon footprints, and potentially higher home values. However, these benefits usually come with significant installation and maintenance costs, and the amount of profit can vary widely from house to house.
How much noise does a solar farm make?
The inverter (or more precisely the cooling fan in the inverter) makes a bit more noise than the panels, but not much more. At a distance of 30 feet, the sound is about 65 decibels, about the same as a conversation. At 500 feet it is completely inaudible.
Do solar panels affect neighbors? These “neighbor effects” are a real phenomenon. It is well documented that when solar panels are installed on a roof, other homeowners in the neighborhood are far more likely to install panels. The closer the neighbor, the greater the effect. The neighbor effect around solar energy is logical.
Are solar farms buzzing? As noted, solar panels should be noise free, especially at night. So we wouldn’t normally expect noise from these panels at night. Of course, solar panel users are used to the hum that their devices generate during the day – this is completely normal.