Australian billionaire pledges up to S$23 billion to supply solar power to S'pore via 3,800 underwater cable

The billionaire's pledge. A game changer to Australia's coal-reliant economy?

Zhangxin Zheng | September 25, 2019, 06:20 PM

A local independent electricity retailer iSwitch may become the first customer of an Australian billionaire's bid to export solar power to Singapore, The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, 39, has pledged to part up to AUD25 billion (S$23.3 billion) to create the world's largest solar farm, exporting solar power to Singapore via a 3,800km subsea cable from northern Australia.

Supply 25 per cent of S'pore power

In a sideline interview with AFR, Cannon-Brookes claimed that he met the Singapore government at the United Nations climate forum to talk about how he can help to supply a quarter of Singapore's power needs in the next 10 years.

"I'm backing it, we're going to make it work, I'm going to build a wire," Cannon-Brookes said that he will plough in money into this project company called Sun Cable.

The goal is to supply solar power from the solar farm in northern Australia to Singapore via a 3,800km subsea cable, AFR reported on Sep. 25.

He estimated the project will cost between AUD20 - 25 billion which is about S$18.7 - 23.3 billion.

Independent local power retailer wants to support efforts

iSwitch's chief commercial officer Andrew Koscharsky told AFR that iSwitch wants to help make Cannon-Brookes' project "more bankable and realistic".

He added that iSwitch, a licensed electricity retailer in Singapore, had reached out to the project managers and was keen to open discussions.

In June 2019, iSwitch took over S$15 million of household, business contracts from green electricity retailer ES Power.

According to Channel NewsAsia, it now has approximately 70,000 residential accounts.

Project to be revealed fully by end of 2019

Calling it a "completely batshit insane project", Cannon-Brookes added that the project can potentially expand to mass-produce hydrogen fuel cheaply so much as that it can be exported to markets like Japan.

It can also replace coal-fired steel plants in Australia which is the largest coal exporter in the world.

Cannon-Brookes said that the project will be fully unveiled "in the next couple of months for sure" by the end of 2019.

The Sun Cable did not comment on this or share details of the funding plans.

Cannon-Brookes, 39, is a co-founder of Australian software company Atlassian.

He previously challenged Tesla Inc's Elon Musk via Twitter to build the biggest battery in the world in 100 days.

Tesla built the battery on time while the former lost the bet in 2016, the battery has proven to be useful in complementing the wind-powered energy in South Australia.

Top photo collage via Advance Global Australian Facebook and Unsplash