By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor
AC Energy, Inc. expects to break ground early next year on several wind projects in Vietnam with its three existing partners in the regional neighbor in time for the feed-in tariff deadline in November 2021, its top official said.
“It could be as big as 250-300 megawatts (MW), it could be as small as 30 MW. That’s a big range,” Eric T. Francia, president and chief executive officer of Ayala Corp.’s energy company, told reporters in an informal gathering in Vietnam during the weekend to celebrate the completion of a solar project.
“We have over 250-MW, expandable to 350 MW with AMI,” he said, referring to Vietnamese partner AMI Renewables Energy Joint Stock Co.
In 2017, AC Energy formed a platform company with AMI Renewables to build renewable energy plants in Vietnam, including a 352-MW wind project in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province.
“We could also potentially do solar in there, so puwede kaming mag-hybrid (we could go hybrid), but we haven’t really finalized that yet,” Mr. Francia said.
The platform company became AC Energy’s second in Vietnam after it partnered with BIM Group of Vietnam to develop 330 MW of solar power in the country.
In November last year, AC Energy announced its international unit had invested in Singapore-based renewable energy company The Blue Circle Pte. Ltd. through a 25% ownership acquisition as well as co-investment rights in the latter’s projects.
AC Energy and The Blue Circle are to jointly develop, construct, own and operate the latter’s pipeline of around 1,500 MW of wind projects across Southeast Asia, including about 700 MW in Vietnam. Its partner developed and constructed one of the first wind farms in Vietnam.
The company announced back then that the partnership plans to develop around 100 to 200 MW of wind energy projects out of The Blue Circle’s project pipeline in Vietnam.
“We really focused on solar because of the tighter deadline, it’s June 2019. Now we did 410 MW between BIM and AMI — 330 [MW] with BIM [and] 80 [MW] with AMI,” Mr. Francia said, referring to the solar projects AC Energy completed with its Vietnamese partners with a feed-in tariff rate of 9.35 US cents.
“We don’t own all of that 410 [MW],” he said, adding that about half of that capacity is attributable to AC Energy.
“Now the focus shifts to wind because the deadline now is 2021. It takes about a year, a year-and-a-half to build a wind farm, so we have until early 2020 to start construction. Between now and early 2020, basically in the next 12 months, we really need to get the projects to shovel-ready stage,” he said.
Mr. Francia had said that he was seeing a potential 1,000 MW of wind projects attributable to AC Energy in Vietnam. He earlier said that the company was in talks with BIM to partner with the latter’s 300-MW wind project.
He declined to identify which of the wind projects would be completed first.
“We don’t know yet which of the 1,000 MW we’re gonna do. That’s just the potential based on the pipeline that we see. It really depends on getting the permits, getting the financing,” he said. “We have two years.”
Mr. Francia said the feed-in tariff used to be 7.80 US cents for wind, but was adjusted a few months ago to 8.50 US cents to encourage more investments. He said the “meaningful adjustment” in the tariff, which guarantees a fixed electricity rate and a regular revenue stream, made wind projects viable in Vietnam.
“Definitely, we’re very bullish with Vietnam. That’s gonna be one of our major international markets,” he said.