Bechtel will head a global consortium announced on Oct. 20 to build the estimated $22.5 billion Australia-Asia PowerLink, a massive network of solar generation, battery storage and high-voltage transmission to deliver renewable energy from Australia’s Northern Territory to Singapore.

Private developer Sun Cable, based in both countries, also selected Hatch, a Canada-based global engineering and project management firm, as lead on the HVDC transmission portion of the project.

SMEC, a division of Singapore-based and government-owned infrastructure consultant Surbana Jurong Group, will oversee the solar generation system. Insurance broker Marsh is a member of the consortium and PwC Australia was selected to provide project advisory expertise.

The project includes a 17-GW to 20-GW solar farm located on about 12,000 acres in the territory and 36 GWh to 42 GWh of battery storage to be built in Darwin, along with 800 km overhead transmission and 4,200 km of undersea HVDC cable to link transmission to Singapore.

“Each carefully selected company has a proven track record in developing and delivering complex infrastructure projects,” Sun Cable said in its announcement, noting its commitment to large renewable energy projects.

The project environmental impact statement is currently underway by Australian government agencies.

“Our flagship project will harness and store solar energy from one of the most reliably sunny places on the planet in the Northern Territory of Australia, for 24/7 transmission to Darwin and Singapore via a high voltage direct current transmission system,” the company said.

“AAPower Link is spread across three jurisdictions and requires a new and innovative project delivery team model to get it done,” said Tom Seymour, CEO of PwC Australia.

The project will be able to supply up to 15% of Singapore’s total electricity needs beginning in 2027, with 95% of its power currently generated by natural gas sources. The region’s power demand is expected to double over the next 20 years to 2,000 TWh, an annual growth twice as fast as the rest of the world, Sun Power said.

The integrated system that includes solar generation, battery storage and HVDC transmission will provide “competitively priced dispatchable high volume renewable power,” the developer said.

The project “will prove to the world that this type of enormous generation and long-distance distribution is possible and will in fact be critical to the world’s energy transition,” Robert Francki, Hatch global managing director said in a statement.

Scott Osborne, Bechtel senior vice president and infrastructure general manager for the Asia Pacific region, said Australia "strives to become a renewable superpower.” The contractor has worked in Australia for nearly 70 years, he said. 

Construction is expected to begin in late 2023. Electricity will be delivered to the city of Darwin in 2026 and to Singapore in 2027. Full capacity will be available by the end of 2028, the company said.  

Details of contract negotiations and terms of the contract awards were not disclosed.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Sun Cable's major backers are billionaire software developer Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest, a mining sector mogul.

It also said the project last month completed a deal with Indonesia to gain access for cable routing that would involve an estimated $2.6 million investment in the country during project construction and operation.