Sun Cable: Cannon-Brookes wins battle for world’s biggest solar and battery project
The battle of the billionaires has ended, with Mike Cannon-Brookes revealed as the successful bidder for the massive Sun Cable project in the Northern Territory, beating out rival Andrew Forrest and keeping alive plans to export Australia generated solar power to Singapore.
News emerged late on Friday that a consortium led by Grok Ventures and including Australian investment heavyweight Quinbrook had been successful in acquiring Sun Cable and its assets, including the giga-scale solar, battery and undersea cable project.
In a joint statement, Cannon Brookes said the deal was “a big step in the right direction” for Sun Cable, while Quinbrook’s David Scaysbrook said his company was well positioned to help complete development of what promises to be “a project of global significance.”
Sun Cable was put into voluntary administration in January after its two major backers – the iron ore billionaire Forrest and the software billionaire Cannon-Brookes – fell out over its business plan.
Cannon-Brookes wants the project to go ahead with its plans to lay a 4,200km cable to Singapore and export the bulk of the power from the proposed 20GW solar farm and the 42GWh of batteries, while Forrest wanted to focus on providing renewable power for green hydrogen and local industry.
The administrators, FTI Consulting, on Friday afternoon revealed that Sun Cable has entered into an Asset Sale Agreement with Helietta Holdings 1 Pty Ltd, an entity affiliated with Grok Ventures – the investment vehicle of Cannon-Brookes and his family.
FTI says pursuant to the sales agreement – a process overseen by sale advisors Moelis – Helietta Holdings will acquire all of Sun Cable’s assets, including the shares in all of Sun Cable’s subsidiaries.
“The Administrators will now work with the Buyer to complete the transaction, with completion expected to occur on or before the end of July 2023,” FTI says.
“Based on the pre-administration claims that are outstanding, the transaction is expected to allow for unsecured creditors of Sun Cable to be paid in full.”
“Swing we will”
Most importantly, FTI confirms that team Cannon-Brookes intends on progressing the Australia-Asia Power Link (AAPowerLink) project to a Final Investment Decision with a first stage to deliver just under one gigawatt of generation into Darwin and 1.8GW into Singapore.
“We’ve always believed in the possibilities Sun Cable presents in exporting our boundless sunshine, and what it could mean for Australia,” Cannon-Brookes said in a statement released by Grok on Friday afternoon.
“It’s time to stretch our country’s ambition. We need to take big swings if we are going to be a renewable energy superpower. So swing we will.”
In his own statement, Quinbrook’s David Scaysbrook described Sun Cable as “a visionary undertaking by any measure.”
“With construction well underway on the largest solar and storage projects ever undertaken in the US and the UK, [Quinbrook] is well positioned to assist Grok to complete the development of what promises to be not only one of the largest renewables projects in Australia, but a project of global significance,” he said.
“Quinbrook will focus on delivering on the opportunity afforded by Northern Australia’s abundant solar and wind energy resources and showcasing the important and complimentary role that the world’s most advanced storage technologies can offer in supplying energy intensive industry with reliable and competitively priced, carbon free power solutions.”
The consortium says it will continue to pursue customer off-take agreements in Singapore and Darwin, and to collaborate with the Singaporean and Northern Territory governments.
It has also promised to “deep dive with management” over coming weeks, and provide updates about the design and development priorities for the project moving forward.