The Anonymous Widower

Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink

Two weeks ago, in How Clean Energy And Jobs Can Flow From Morocco to The UK, I talked about a plan to generate electricity using solar arrays in Southern Morocco and use an underwater interconnector to bring it to the UK.

If you think that project was ambitious and distinctly bonkers, then that project is outshone by Sun Cable‘s Australia-Asia PowerLink, which is shown in this SunCable graphic.

These are a few facts about the project.

  • Electricity will be generated by solar panels in the Northern Territories of Australia.
  • There will be 12,000 hectares of solar panels in Australia, which will create 3.2 GW of electricity for distribution.
  • There will be a 36-42 GWh battery in Australia.
  • There will be 4,200 km of submarine HVDC cable to deliver the electricity to Singapore and Indonesia.
  • It looks like there will be batteries in Darwin and Singapore.
  • The link could supply up to fifteen percent of Singapore’s electricity.

It is certainly an ambitious project, that will contain the world’s largest solar array, the world’s largest battery, and the world’s longest submarine power cable.

Note.

  1. Currently, the largest solar park in the world is Bhadia Solar Park in India, which is half the size of the solar array proposed.
  2. At 720 km, the North Sea Link is the largest undersea HVDC is operation.
  3. The largest battery in the UK is Electric Mountain in Snowdonia, which is only 9.1 GWh.
  4. A Tesla Megapack battery of the required size would probably cost at least ten billion dollars.

This is certainly, a project that is dealing in superlatives.

Is The Australia-Asia PowerLink Possible?

I shall look at the various elements.

The Solar Panels

I have flown a Piper Arrow from Adelaide to Cairns.

  • My route was via Coober Pedy, Yulara, Alice Springs and Mount Isa.
  • There didn’t seem to be much evidence of rain.
  • The circle from South to East took four days of almost continuous flying, as Australia is not a small country.
  • It left me with the impression of a flat featureless and hot country.

Having seen solar panels on flat areas in the UK, the Australian Outback could be ideal for solar farms.

Sun Cable are talking about 10,000 hectares of solar panels, which is roughly 38.6 square miles or a 6.2 mile square.

Given enough money to source the solar panels and install them, I would expect that the required solar farm could be realised.

The Cable

Consider.

  • The North Sea Link is a 1.4 GW cable that is 720 km. long.
  • I would size it as 10008 GW-km, by multiplying the units together.
  • The Australia-Asia PowerLink will be 4200 km or nearly six times as long.
  • But at 3.2 GW as opposed to 1.4 GW, it will have 2.3 times the capacity.
  • I would size it as 13,400 GW-km.

Whichever way you look at it, the amount of cable needed will be massive.

The Battery

Currently, the largest battery in the world is the Bath County Pumped Storage Station, which has these characteristics.

  • Peak power of 3 GW
  • Storage capacity of 24 GWh.

Sun Cable’s 36-42 GWh battery will be the largest in the world, by a long way.

But I don’t think pumped storage will be suitable in the usually dry climate of Northern Australia.

The largest lithium-ion battery in the world is the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, which is only 150 MW/194 MWh, so something else will have to be used.

As Highview Power are building a CRYOBattery for the Atacama region in Chile, which I wrote about in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery, I wonder, if a cluster of these could provide sufficient storage.

 

October 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy Storage, Energy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment