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NT sunshine could soon be farmed to send electricity to power Singapore

Gary Shipway, July 15, 2019 7:00PM NT News

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The 5B Maverick solar power technology is already being used for Borroloola, NT and is now planned for a huge solar farm near Tennant Creek, NT. media_cameraThe 5B Maverick solar power technology is already being used for Borroloola, NT and is now planned for a huge solar farm near Tennant Creek, NT.


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Australia’s hot and plentiful* Northern Territory sunshine could soon be farmed for electricity to power Singapore.

The 15,000ha farm planned for the Barkly region near Tennant Creek would be the world’s biggest solar farm.

The $20 billion project would generate* 1000 jobs in Darwin and another 1000 in Adelaide, South Australia, during construction and 300 jobs on the solar farm.

Sun Cable, the Singapore-based company proposing* the farm, is aiming to start building in 2023 and for it to be fully working in 2027.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner supports the plan.

The NT News newspaper understands traditional owners in Central Australia and the Federal Government have attended meetings about the project.

Overhead power lines would send the electricity generated to Darwin and into the NT electricity system. Most of the power would then be exported to Singapore.

Electric Power Lines and Transmission Tower, Electric grid at sunset media_cameraOverhead power lines would send the electricity generated to Darwin.

Sun Cable managing director David Griffin said the farm would produce about one third of Singapore’s electricity, transmitted from Darwin with a 3800km-long underwater power line called a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable.

He said Australia’s strong relationship with Singapore, as well as its stable economy* and political and legal system*, will ensure a secure, reliable electricity supply for Singapore.

The farm would use 5B manufactured Maverick solar power technology, which is already successfully in use in the cyclone-prone NT town Borroloola.

Mr Griffin said this technology was a good choice for the new farm because much of the equipment could be made elsewhere and transported to the farm, which was a quick and efficient way of building in a remote location.

“The Maverick technology combines modular* design, prefabrication* and rapid deployment*,” Mr Griffin said

“We would look to manufacture those Mavericks in Darwin and Adelaide and transport them to site.

“That will involve a lot of factory jobs … about 1000 jobs in each assembly facility*.”

Mr Griffin said the construction would take just under three years and up to 300 people would work on site.

“We are designing this project on the back of solar technology that exists now. We know it works from a technical and engineering perspective and our firm view is that this will work on a commercial* basis. It will have a 10GW generation capacity.

“We are working as fast as we can to put the myriad* of project components* together and get to the 2023 target date.”

Mr Gunner said: “There is no better place in the world to lead the renewable revolution than the Northern Territory.”

“We have the guaranteed cloud-free days, the land, and a government with the vision, plan, and will,” he said.

“There are more bright days ahead of us than cloudy; literally, that’s why we are the natural place for leadership on solar.”

Silverton - Day 1 media_cameraAGL Energy’s Broken Hill Solar Farm in NSW. Sunshine is plentiful across much of Australia and there are several big solar farms already built. Picture: supplied

In Western Australia, a separate group of developers is working on plans for an even bigger combined wind and solar farm in the Pilbara in WA. This project is called the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, with the planned 15GW electricity generated to be used by mining-related companies in the area as well as for household power in Australia and for export, possibly to South Korea and Japan.

Generic Thinkstock image of wind farm turbine and sun heating solar power panel. media_cameraThe proposed Pilbara, WA, energy farm will use a combination of solar panels and wind turbines.

Solar panels capture energy from the sun. They take this energy and use it to provide electricity and even hot water. Solar panels can work on cloudy days when the sun isn’t very visible at all.

The sun shines on the solar panels and the panels absorb the energy, creating direct current (DC) electricity.

Renewable Energy XXXL media_cameraSolar panels capture the energy from sunshine and this energy is turned into electricity.

The electricity is fed into what is called a solar inverter. This converts the current into alternating current (AC) electricity.

The AC current is then used to power electrical devices such as lights or appliances.

Solar panels cannot provide power at night, so most people still have to remain connected to the National Grid (this is where most houses get electricity from).

Any power not needed gets sent back (or sold) to the National Grid for others to use.

In a way, the National Grid is similar to a bank. You can deposit your excess energy from solar panels, but when you need power later (such as during the evening), you can take some back.


  • plentiful: lots of something
  • generate: make
  • proposing: suggesting and planning
  • economy: money system
  • political and legal system: government and laws
  • modular: in small parts
  • prefabrication: made ahead of time, usually somewhere else
  • deployment: begin using or operating
  • facility: place where something particular happens
  • commercial: to make money, as a business
  • myriad: a huge number of things
  • components: parts


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  1. How would the power get from the Barkly to Singapore?
  2. How many jobs is it suggested the solar farm could create? Where would the jobs be?
  3. How much power could the Barkly solar farm generate?
  4. What could happen in the Pilbara to generate electricity?
  5. What do solar panels do?


1. Help Kids News
Create a diagram for this story that will help other readers of Kids News understand how the solar project will work. Include labels that explains how each part of the process works.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Visual Communication Design

2. Extension
Imagine that Kids News has asked you to interview the NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner about the Sun Cable project. Write five questions you would ask him. Then write the answers you think he would give about the project.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many connectives as you can find in pink. Discuss if these are being used as conjunctions, or to join ideas and create flow.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Do you think the Sun Cable project is a good idea? If not, do you have a better idea either for how to generate power or how that land should be used?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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