One of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy projects – the A$30bn ($21bn) Sun Cable plan aiming to pipe solar power from Australia to Singapore – has fallen into administration after a reported clash between its two biggest billionaire backers.
Sun Cable, which wants to export green electricity from up to 20GW of PV in Australia’s Northern Territory via a 4,200km HVDC cable, said today (Wednesday) that it “has made the difficult decision to enter voluntary administration”, citing “the absence of alignment with the objectives of all shareholders.
“Whilst funding proposals were provided, consensus on the future direction and funding structure of the company could not be achieved,” Sun Cable said in a statement.
That lack of consensus was widely reported to refer to a disagreement between Sun Cable's high-profile backers – software tycoon Mike Cannon-Brookes, who once memorably quipped that the plan was “insane”, and mining billionaire Andrew Forrest – over the next steps for the project and its financing.
The Financial Times was among those claiming that Forrest’s Squadron Energy declined to support a refinancing plan over concerns at the project’s direction, citing sources with direct knowledge of the issue.
Forrest is one of the world’s highest-profile backers of green hydrogen in Australia and globally, while Squadron Energy recently claimed the mantle of largest Australian renewables player after a $2.7bn acquisition.
Sun Cable was ambitious even by the standards of the giant wind, solar and green hydrogen projects currently underway in Australia. As well as the massive generation capacity, it hopes to back up its output with what’s billed as the world’s largest battery array at 36-42GWh.
The project in its statement said the appointment of administrators “will now unlock a path forward for the company to access additional capital for continued development of its marque project, the Australia-Asia PowerLink and progress the next stage of its development portfolio in a strong market”.