Australia's Ambitious $16 Billion Solar Project Will Be The World's Biggest

Nov 24, 2020 03:42 PM ET
  • The world's most ambitious renewable resource project to day is the recommended Australia-- ASEAN Power Link. This project would combine the globe's largest solar farm, the largest battery, as well as the longest undersea electricity cable. The 10 gigawatt (GW) solar farm would cover 30,000 acres in Australia's warm Northern Territory. That is about the matching of 9 million roof solar photovoltaic or pv (PV) panels.

The solar farm would certainly be paired with a 30 gigawatt-hour (GWh) battery storage space center to make it possible for day-and-night dispatch of eco-friendly power. It's insufficient to build a solar farm in the middle of no place if you can't get the power out. The project presently imagines an 800-kilometer high-voltage overhanging high-voltage line to transfer 3 GW to Darwin on the north coastline of Australia's Northern Territory. From there, it would certainly move to a 3,700 km 2.2 GW undersea power line to Singapore. Sun Cable, a Singapore-based business established in 2018, is behind the proposed $16 billion project.

For perspective, this undersea line would be 5 times longer than the globe's longest so long-- the 720 km Norway-to-Britain North Sea Link that is set up to be on the internet in 2021. The storage facility would certainly be 155 times larger than Australia's 193.5 megawatt-hours (MWh) Hornsdale Power Reserve, currently the world's largest functional lithium-ion battery. As well as it would certainly additionally be 100 times larger than the globe's largest utility-scale battery, the 300 MWh sodium-sulfur battery at Japan's Buzen Substation.

The Australia-ASEAN project is scheduled to find online by the end of 2027. The project's developers expect it to develop as much as 1,500 jobs during the building and construction phase, and as much as 350 work throughout procedures. Given the rate of interest in these kinds of projects, it is very important to understand the difficulties and ultimate expense of carrying renewable energy over fars away. The ability to do this financially has crucial ramifications from the Sahara Desert to the American Midwest to the Arctic.

Undoubtedly, the world has incredible renewable energy resources, yet often those resources are located much from populace facilities. For instance, the most effective wind sources in the U.S. can be discovered in the panhandles of Texas as well as Oklahoma, as well as throughout the sparsely populated central Midwest. Furthermore, many of the globe's best solar sources can be discovered in sparsely inhabited desert areas.

The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has actually stated that large-scale release of renewable power generation will certainly need added transmission lines to soothe regional restrictions.

As a matter of fact, there has actually been significant interest in connecting several of these abundant renewable energies with populace centers via transmission lines, yet the expenses are usually too high. These facilities projects are typically multibillion-dollar projects that need to also win over approval from regulators and also landowners.

To be clear, the challenges will certainly be substantial. There are constantly dangers when building the biggest of anything, and this project envisions doing that in 3 separate categories. That considerably raises the dangers of failing. Several obstacles will certainly require to be conquered.

For example, subsea cable televisions commonly pass through superficial water. In this instance, the cable will need to browse deep trenches. That, integrated with the length that requires to be passed through, will offer extraordinary obstacles for the ships that will certainly attempt to lay the cable. This is simply a solitary instance of the sort of challenges such megaprojects can encounter.

To approximate the price of the solar power produced by this system, we have to make a few presumptions. The very first is on the life time of the system. A basic general rule is that solar PV systems will last about 25 years. These systems can still create power past that time frame, but significant degradation in the power result will occur by then.

Second, the amount of power created over that time needs to be approximated. The capacity aspect stands for the portion of energy generated over a duration (usually a year) split by the set up capacity. Because the sunlight's output varies throughout the day and year-- and according to location-- the capability variable for solar PV can differ from concerning 10% to 25%.

For example, if the 10 GW system could run at complete result 24 hours a day, it could generate 24 x 365 x 10 = 87,600 GWh per year. Throughout Australia, the ordinary capability factor for large PV systems is approximated at 21%. Provided the scale as well as area of the Sun Cable project, it's not unreasonable to presume they could reach the upper variety of 25% ability variable.

In that situation, over the life time of the system, it would certainly produce 87,600 GWh * 25 years * 25% capacity factor = 547,500 GWh of power, or 547.5 terawatt-hours (TWh).

However there are line losses to consider. Although the direct current is an extra reliable means of sending power over fars away than alternating existing, several of the power transmitted is lost as heat. For DC, those line losses hinge on the voltage of the line and also the distance over which the power is sent. The majority of HVDC lines make use of voltages between 100 kilovolts (kV) as well as 800 kV. Offered the power and also distance took a trip, the Australia-ASEAN Power Link will probably be on the upper end of that scale.

Siemens has mentioned that for 2.5 GW of power transmitted on 800 km of above line, the line loss at 800 kV HVDC is just 2.6%. Extrapolating that fully size of the 4,500 kilometres line would suggest a general power loss of 14.6% (thinking the losses in the undersea HVDC are comparable to those of the overhead line).

Thus, the overall provided power could be estimated at 547.5 TWh * 85.4% = 467.6 TWh. Then the straightforward levelized cost of the power generated from this project would certainly be $16 billion split by 467.6 TWh (which amounts 467.6 billion kilowatt-hours), or $0.034/ kWh.

That is an appealing cost, but it just offers a simple, low-end estimate of the funding cost payment to the project. This would need to be included in the recurring maintenance costs-- several of which could be significant if the undersea cable needs repair work-- and also funding expenses. Readily available solar subsidies, which have additionally not been taken into consideration, could partially defray these expenses.