The notion of Australia exporting its world-class solar resources has taken a step closer with the Northern Territory Government’s announcement it has granted major project status to a plan to transmit 3GW of solar power to Singapore by subsea cable.

Sun Cable’s proposed $20 billion Australia-Singapore Power Link near Tennant Creek would generate 10GW to supply a 20-30GWh storage facility, supply Darwin and export 3GW to Singapore via a 3,800km HVDC subsea cable.

Sun Cable director of project management Mac Thompson told EcoGeneration that the proposed enormous storage component of between 20-30GWh would be “a scale out rather than scale up”, comprised of multiple smaller farms that will make up the larger farm.

The developer looks to be favouring prefabricated Maverick 5B solar panel arrays. Concertinaed arrays six-panels wide will be pre-manufactured and transported to the site in 40-foot shipping containers via a nearby rail line, he said.

“[The Maverick solar mounting system results in] almost zero installation cost, which is often the cost killer in solar farms,” Thompson said.

When unfolded, half the fixed panels in Maverick arrays are oriented slightly westwards and half slightly eastwards.

“We considered tracking but it’s too expensive,” Thompson said.

Singapore-based Sun Cable claims 3GW is roughly 20% of the island nation’s electricity. It is the largest solar farm under development in the world.

The developer pointed to the 1,518km Israel-to-Europe EuroAsia Interconnector as evidence of a project of a similar size and distance using HVDC.

“It’s very efficient and losses are minimal compared with AC transmission.”

Land for the project will be leased with compensation for the owners, Thompson said.

“Not only do they benefit financially but also with the knowledge that they are contributing to lowering the world’s carbon emissions.”

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the government would negotiate a project development agreement with Sun Cable.

“The Northern Territory has an incredible opportunity to lead the world as a renewable energy hub – and seizing this opportunity will deliver thousands of local jobs,” Gunner said.

“We have the guaranteed cloud-free days, the land and a government with the vision, plan and will to make it happen. Major project status for Sun Cable is an important step towards making this vision a reality.”

The next step is for a project development agreement to be negotiated between the NT government and Sun Cable. The company will be required to prepare an environmental impact statement and a territory benefit plan.