Atlassian heavyweight to power up energy debate
Australian software giant Atlassian's co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes is a self-confessed "energy nerd" who is putting his money where his mouth is in backing renewable power.
Tomorrow, on a panel at The Daily Telegraph Bush Summit in Cooma, he will be "trying to educate" Energy Minister Angus Taylor and shadow resources minister Joel Fitzgibbon about renewables.
And he says he will be the only one of the three who has read the Australian Energy Market Operator's 99-page Integrated System Plan, released last month, that provides a blueprint for the electricity grid.
"I am going to be straight up - they tell stories for a living and I deal with facts, technology, science and hard economics," he said. "I am hoping to have a robust discussion on what we need to do.
"Investing in renewables is an unstoppable train. It is the cheapest source of energy that exists today."
Mr Cannon-Brookes' vision is for Australia to become an "energy superpower", harnessing wind and solar and exporting it to the world.
Together with miner Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest he has invested millions in developing a cable that will export solar power to Singapore.
"Sun Cable is a global scale energy project. The world's largest solar farm at Tennant Creek connected to the world's largest battery … delivering power to Singapore through a cable," he said.
Mr Cannon-Brookes believes the project will be "electrified" and operating by 2027 and has no doubt that there will be plenty of backers ready to stump up the $22 billion cost.
"Exporting electricity via cables is one of the near-term opportunities we have," he said.
His vision for Australia's clean energy future also puts jobs into rural and regional areas.
Unlike coal, which is concentrated in certain areas, the sun shines and the wind blows everywhere.
"We should have the cheapest energy on the planet. We have so much wind and sun it is crazy that we don't," he said.
"We have a long history of exporting our natural resources, this is looking to harness our natural advantage - we happen to be sitting on one of the sunniest and windiest continents on the planet."
The use of solar panels and wind turbines on farms would also provide farmers with a drought-proof second source of income.
He points to examples where panels have been elevated two metres above a paddock to provide sheep with shade and cool grown grass to show how it can work in harmony with existing use.
Six weeks ago Mr Cannon-Brookes threw his support behind climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions' plan to create one million jobs to help Australia recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan has already received 600 project proposals, including 10 on a major scale. "Around 70 per cent of the jobs would be in rural and regional areas," he said.
Originally published as Atlassian heavyweight to power up energy debate