Sun Cable is still to gain approval from the regulator in Singapore but has said it has received expressions of interest from its private sector totalling 2.5GW, indicating demand well exceeding its plan to transmit 1.75GW via cable from a giant solar and battery farm in Australia.
While the geographically tiny south-east Asian nation has alternatives – most feasibly through importing hydropower from Laos via Thailand and Malaysia, and solar energy from Indonesia’s nearby Riau Islands – Sun Cable holds much appeal, according to Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, senior principal research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute.
“This is one of the many strings to their clean energy bow,” he said.
“Singapore will need to import renewable energy and the nice thing about Sun Cable I think, from a Singaporean point of view, is it’s a large project, it’s from a [part of a] country that doesn’t have much demand and Australia is a politically reliable partner. So that makes the project, in principle, of interest, although its credibility has taken a knock.”
Andrews-Speed said there was a lot of scepticism in Singapore about whether the Australia-Asia PowerLink would ever materialise but the firm’s troubles sent his mind back to another landmark, privately financed project.
“It reminds of the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France,” he said. “The first idea to do it was 1802 and it was only opened in 1994.
“A lot of people in Singapore [have] said ‘it’ll never happen’. My opinion [has been] ‘I’m not an engineer, but if the engineers put their minds to it, it’s expensive, but it will happen’.
“Really ambitious infrastructure projects go through these difficult times. So I don’t think it’s all over [but] clearly it will be delayed.”
The impact of Sun Cable’s woes may also be felt in Indonesia. Two months ago the company announced a deal with the government in Jakarta to develop plans for an inter-island electricity grid that it said could help unlock $US115 billion ($166 billion) of green energy.
Sun Cable chief executive David Griffin was also among the delegation of business leaders from Australia who accompanied Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Indonesia in June just two weeks after Labor won the federal election.
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