AC Energy boosts renewable portfolio in Australia
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — AC Energy Inc. continues to deepen its footing in Australia with an investment in the pumped hydro and solar projects currently being developed in South Australia through UPCAC Renewables Australia.

Australia continues to be a target market for the company given rosy prospects in the renewable energy space, AC Energy president and CEO Eric Francia said in a roundtable discussion yesterday.

“Australia is an interesting market because the resource is fairly rich, capacity factor there is high and then spot prices there remain elevated since 2016 to 2017. Coal plants there are becoming less and less reliable as they reach technical life. I think this is really an era of renewables for Australia,” he said.

UPCAC Renewables Australia, which is 50 percent owned by AC Energy, entered into a conditional share purchase agreement with Australian firm Rise Renewables to acquire a  51 percent interest in the Baroota pumped hydro and the Bridle Track Solar projects.

Under the terms of the agreement, UPCAC Renewables said it intends to accelerate development, fund construction and retain long-term ownership of the projects.

“We just signed a couple of days ago to develop pumped hydro in South Australia,” AC Energy International chief operating officer Patrice Clausse said in a briefing yesterday.

“That one, hopefully we can get NTP (notice to proceed) in the next six months,” she said.

The Bridle Track Solar farm project has approval for 300-MW located next to the Baroota pumped hydro project.

Both projects will share a connection point to the 275-kilovolt Bungama to the Davenport transmission line.

For the pumped hydro project, UPCAC Renewables chief executive officer Anton Rohner said the group would focus to fasttrack the project’s financial close and issuance of NTP to commence construction.

“We are aiming to have the 250 MW of capacity operational by the summer of 2023, the first expected summer without the Liddell power station,” he said.

The Baroota pumped hydro and solar farms fit UPCAC Renewables’ other developments across  NEM in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania “to achieve a balanced portfolio of reliable renewable generation in the NEM,” he said.

Last year, AC Energy invested $30 million to acquire 50 percent of the Australian business of UPC Renewables now called UPCAC Renewables.

The Ayala firm also provided a $200-million facility to fund the project equity.

Under the joint venture, 3,000 MW of renewable energy projects are being developed in New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria. Currently, the joint venture is working on a 700-MW solar farm in New South Wales.

AC Energy targets a 5,000-MW capacity by 2025. Last year, it generated 2,800 gigawatt-hours of energy, of which 48 percent came from renewable sources.

AC ENERGY INC. ERIC FRANCIA
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