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Mega solar farm in Australia to supply electricity to Singapore

Mega solar farm in Australia to supply electricity to Singapore

Asia Technamics

In the weekly column we write alternately about the innovation and economic trends in Asia.

(Photo: Klawe Rzeczy)

Bangkok As long as the solar panels are hanging on the roof it is an idea: why not build giant solar power plants in the desert where the sun always shines and then send electricity from there to the cloudy cities for a long time. In the north?

The German physicist Gerhard Nice had already widely promoted the idea in the early millennium: he showed a world map with a tiny red square over a part of the Sahara. He explained that if this area, which is probably the size of Bavaria, was covered by solar cells, it could meet the global electricity demand.

The Desertech initiative emerged from Knies’ vision of companies like this Siemens, RWE And eon Desert wants to produce electricity on a large scale and supply it to both North Africa and Europe. However, the ambitious concept has not yet become a reality. For a long time, the costs and technical barriers to transmitting solar energy thousands of kilometers away from the equator were enormous.

But two decades after the first proposals for the Sahara project, the idea may now become a reality on the other side of the world: according to the plans of private investors and officials, the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore could soon gain significant traction. Its electricity from solar power plants in distant Australia.

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The project, known as the Australia-Asia Power Link, aims to connect the financial capital of five and a half million people with Northern Australia by 4,200 kilometers of cable, most of which will be by sea.

There are 12,000 hectares of solar panels planned to produce a maximum of 17 to 20 gigawatts. In the future, they will be able to meet 15 percent of Singapore’s electricity demand, according to Sun Cable, the Singaporean company responsible for the initiative. Singapore can not only make its energy supply more environmentally friendly, but also diversify it: to date, 95 percent of the country’s electricity comes from gas-fired power plants.

Extensive support from the authorities

The project is backed by wealthy financiers such as Australian billionaires Mike Cannon-Brooks and Andrew Forrest. The latter is about to start his own mining company Fortescue Metals is grouped into a renewable energy group and, among other things, wants to supply green hydrogen to Germany. Start-ups want to spend about $ 22 billion on a solar power project with Singapore. Construction is scheduled to begin next year. The current should flow from 2027.

>> Read about this: Eon builds the “Hydrogen Bridge” from Australia to Germany

Unlike Desertech – officials in Australia are confident that the plans will actually be implemented. The Northern Territory Government announced this week broad support for the project, including a special law designed to increase project security and help “secure project funding” for Sun Cable.

Prime Minister Michael Gunnar stressed: “The law provides protection for the project.” He described it as an important economic driver and an opportunity for the region to become known as a renewable energy exporter.

If the project goes ahead, it will not only be a success for Australia and Singapore – but also a real milestone in global energy supply. Thanks to technological advances over the past decades, cross-continent green power projects are no longer a dream, but a project that could prove to be a real alternative for Europe to rethink. At the end of the day, it turns out that Deserttek pioneer Gerhard Nice, who died at the end of 2017, was slightly ahead of his time.

Further: Asia wants to achieve energy change through floating solar parks.