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Mining magnate Twiggy Forrest will help build one of Australia's biggest solar farms – but all of its energy is destined for Asia

Jack Derwin
  • Australian mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has invested in Sun Cable, a company that will soon be one of Australia's largest solar farms.
  • The $25 billion Northern Territory project will transport solar power via an underwater cable to Singapore.
  • Forrest joins fellow billionaire and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes in the project, which he says presents "enormous opportunities not just for reducing emissions but also for the economic march of our nation".

One of Australia's richest mining magnates has thrown his hat in the solar energy ring.

Billionaire and Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has become the latest big investor in Sun Cable, a giant Northern Territory solar farm.

But here's the kicker: none of the energy it produces will be used in Australia. Instead, a 3,800-kilometre underwater cable will transfer it to power Singapore.

"This presents the Australian economy with enormous opportunities not just for reducing emissions but also for the economic march of our nation and global competitiveness," Forrest said in a statement.

He joined Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes in the funding round said to be worth tens of millions of dollars. Cannon-Brookes has previously admitted the project as sounding “completely batshit insane” but maintains the "engineering all checks out".

"If we nail this, we can build a new export industry for Australia, create jobs and set our economy up for the future," he said. "In a carbon-constrained world, Australia should be a winner. This is a massively exciting project with world-changing potential."

The $25 billion project is expected to generate more than 20 gigawatts of electricity, using 15,000 hectares -- or around 7,500 football fields -- of solar panels next to the Tennant Creek — a small central Northern Territory town. It will then use Tesla batteries to store the energy.

From there, a cable will run alongside the already established railway line that connects Alice Springs and Darwin. At 3,800 kilometres long, it will run underwater to Singapore, where it will satisfy as much as a fifth of the entire city’s energy demands.

The sheer size and ambition of such renewable projects appear to be attracting the country's billionaires, if not also its politicians.

READ MORE: Atlassian boss Mike Cannon-Brookes is funding the world’s largest solar farm here to sell energy to Asia via a cable – and even he admits it sounds ‘batshit insane’

READ MORE: Money has been drying up from the Australian renewable energy sector at 'levels not seen since Tony Abbott was Prime Minister'