Ayala enters Australian renewables market

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AC ENERGY Holdings, Inc. is making its foray into Australia, as it announced on Wednesday its acquisition of a 50% stake in the Australian business of UPC Renewables.

“AC Energy is very excited to invest into UPC Renewables Australia as it complements AC Energy’s goal to exceed 5,000 MW (megawatts) by 2025. The UPC Renewables Australia platform is focused on large scale projects and is managed by a high-quality management team,” said AC Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Eric T. Francia in a statement.

Under the deal, AC Energy will invest $30 million for a 50% stake in UPC Renewables’ Australian business, as well as provide a $200-million facility to fund project equity.

UPC Renewables Australia is developing the 1,000-MW Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain projects in North West Tasmania, and the 600-MW New England Solar Farm near Uralla in New South Wales.

“The Robbins Island project itself is a very large site and together with Jim’s Plains have some of the best proven wind resources in the world, and the New England Solar project has excellent solar resource within close proximity to Transmission,” Mr. Francia said.

UPC Renewables Australia also has a development portfolio of another 3,000 MW located in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria.

“AC Energy investment into UPC Renewables Australia will enable us to accelerate projects in Australia. We are making progress on the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain project in North West Tasmania and we endorse the Prime Minister’s recent comment about how wind and hydro are highly complementary,” Anton Rohner, chief executive of UPC Renewables Australia, was quoted as saying.

“We expect our projects in North West Tasmania to have capacity factors in the order of 50% with the turbines producing power nearly 95% of the time,” he added.

The Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain projects, together with Tasmania’s hydro assets and other new renewable energy projects, Mr. Rohner said “will assist in making the interconnectors between Tasmania and Victoria, a dispatchable and significant renewable energy generator into the National Electricity Market.”

In July last year, AC Energy disclosed that it had entered into a development funding arrangement with UPC Renewables Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd. and UPC Renewables Asia I Limited — collectively, UPC Renewables — for the development of small island power projects in Indonesia.

The partnership between AC Energy and UPC Renewables started in 2013 for the development, construction and operations of North Luzon Renewable Energy Corp., the project entity for the 81-MW wind farm project in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

The two also partnered in the 75-MW Sidrap project in South Sulawesi, which is said to be the first utility-scale wind farm in Indonesia.

AC Energy’s Australian venture comes after it disclosed on Sunday that it was considering to sell as much as half of its thermal energy platform. The move is meant to balance its renewables and thermal portfolios, as well as raise capital to support growth as the company expands in the region.

The company has a total attributable capacity of around 1,600 MW across its thermal and renewables platforms.

UPC Renewables is a leading global energy player that develops, finances, constructs, owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation assets. Together with partners, it has projects in Italy, US, Canada, China and the Philippines.

Shares in AC Energy’s parent Ayala Corp. slipped 0.42% to P950 each on Wednesday. — Victor V. Saulon