A $30 billion project to send Australian-produced solar power to Singapore has been placed under voluntary administration (VA) amid a reported row between the backers, technology and mining billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Dr. Andrew Forest.
Cannon-Brookes and Forrest are cornerstone investors in Singapore Sun cable – the co-founder of Atlassian through his private family investment company, Grok Ventures, and the founder of the Fortescue Metals Group through Squadron Energy, a subsidiary of his investment company, Tattarang.
Last March, they led a $210 million Series B round in Sun Cable, having co-led initial funding in 2019.
The Sun Cable Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) is a 17-20 gigawatt (GW) solar farm and up to 42 GWh battery storage near Tennant Creek, in the Northern Territory, connected to the world’s longest submarine High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable system, approximately 4,200 km long from Darwin to Singapore along the Indonesian archipelago.
The project is expected to take six to seven years to complete and provide 15% of Singapore’s power needs. It has the backing of the federal and NT governments, as well as international regulatory support
Christopher Hill, David McGrath and John Park of FTI Consulting have been appointed as voluntary trustees of Sun Cable, with a company statement saying the move “followed a lack of alignment with all shareholders’ objectives” and that “consensus on the future direction and the financing structure of the company could not be achieved”.
Founder and CEO David Griffin hopes the VA process will provide a path forward for the project and provide access to additional capital.
“Sun Cable has made extraordinary progress in the development of the AAPowerLink. This project remains well positioned for completion,” he said.
“As we have progressed with our work, the demand for providing reliable, controllable 24/7 renewable energy in the NT and region has increased significantly. Sun Cable looks forward to developing and executing the projects to meet this demand.”
No trustees have been appointed for any of the company’s subsidiaries, and FTI Consulting plans to work with Sun Cable’s management team and key stakeholders on the next steps for the company.
The likely outcome is seeking expressions of interest in a recapitalization or sale of the company.
Whether Forrest or Cannon-Brookes, Sun Cable’s chair, make game for the project to own it outright remains to be seen.
In addition to the hugely ambitious AAPowerLink project, Sun Cable also has 11 GW of proposed projects on the drawing board.
Cannon-Brookes said Sun Cable has achieved so much since its founding in 2018 and continues to support the company.
“I am confident it will play a big role in providing green energy to the world right here from Australia,” he said.
“I fully support this ambition and the team and look forward to supporting the next chapter of the company.”
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