Photo: Alice Solar City, AAPT

By Alexandra Patel and Monica Medina

What do you put in the middle of Australia’s sunny and mostly deserted Outback?  Hint: it’s bigger than a blooming onion!  Australia’s Northern Territory will likely soon be home to the world’s largest solar farm, revolutionizing both Australia’s and Singapore’s energy sector.  The project, Sun Cable, will house an array of 10-gigawatt solar panels across 37,000 acres of desert, backed by a battery storage unit able to supply power 24 hours a day. Construction for this 20 billion dollar plan is set to begin in 2023, with operations commencing as early as 2027.

Why This Matters: Fossil fuels still dominate the global energy industry despite being extremely hazardous to the climate and environment. Declining capital costs for renewable energy, especially in developed countries all around the globe, however, is transforming the industry as the development of low-cost energy is becoming more and more feasible. Australia’s gigantic and historic project is proof of this trend.  The cross-country cooperation and energy sharing between Australia and Singapore is another momentous breakthrough, and an example for the future of the energy sector and how countries and companies think about cross-border cooperation — even across the ocean.  Given that capital costs to develop massive projects like this one are lower in developed countries, experts predict that Australia could be at the center of low-cost energy in a future fossil-free world.

Australia Could Become a Leader On Renewables.

According to The Guardian, Australia is currently 15th on the list of carbon-pollution nations and emits around 1.4% to 5% of global greenhouse gases.  But, as the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquified natural gas, these numbers are expected to rise instead of wind down, especially with the bipartisan support pushing the expansion of both industries.

The Projects In Early Development.

Sun Cable would provide power to Australia’s city of Darwin, but the majority of generated power will travel to Singapore via an undersea cable.

Another group of developers is working on an even bigger and more ambitious combined wind and solar hybrid plant in Australia to power local industry and develop a green hydrogen manufacturing hub.

  • The scale of the proposed Asian Renewable Energy Hub has expanded from 11GW to 15GW, and if built, it will be the largest wind-solar hybrid in the world.

Australia has the greatest potential renewable energy resource in the developed world, and it could expand its energy production while significantly reducing global carbon emissions — a win-win given its current fossil fuel exports.

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