By Victor V. Saulon
SPANISH FIRM Acciona, S.A. plans to expand its operations in the Philippines and beef up its manpower as it explores opportunities in the renewable energy sector in partnership with a local company, its regional official said.
“What we’re trying to do is to understand the possibilities on the energy side, the green energy side of the country,” said Jorge F. Gayoso Mediero, Acciona head of business development for Southeast Asia and Iran, during an “appreciation” event with its local partners last week.
“We know that there is no feed-in tariff right now in the Philippines, but we’re trying to move forward with different deals,” he told reporters, referring to the government scheme that grants a fixed tariff for 20 years to early investors in renewable energy.
The Acciona official said the company was looking at the potential of signing power purchase agreements with private companies, specifically big industrial consumers, in place of the feed-in tariff. Acciona’s expertise is in designing specific solutions in wind and solar energy.
“We need partners because of regulation,” he said, citing the 40% limitation in the stake of a foreign firm embarking on a local renewable energy project.
“We have conversations with local partners,” he added, but declining to identify the prospective partners because of a confidentiality agreement.
Mr. Mediero said Acciona is open to developing any green technology project, although he said the most competitive at this time are those using wind and solar energy technologies.
“The only problem of the renewable energy is that sometimes we have no wind, or we have no sun. During the night for example we have no protection. So we have to put in the middle of the process a local retailer, a utility, someone that operates in the electricity market,” he said.
Acciona last year won the contract to build the new Cebu-Cordova bridge in the Visayas, marking the company’s second deal in the country.
The contract is worth $400 million, and will be carried out as the Cebu Link Joint Venture in partnership with First Balfour, Inc. and D.M. Consunji, Inc. The customer is the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corp., which is owned by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.
Acciona’s first project in the country was awarded in 2016 for the design and construction of the Putatan 2 drinking water plant, which the company will also operate for its first year in service. The €90-million contract was awarded by Maynilad Water Services, Inc. to a joint venture comprising Acciona and local partners.
Mr. Mediero said Acciona decided to expand into renewable energy in the Philippines “because the price of energy is high, which means that we have a chance to compete and offer better prices with renewable energy.”
He said the company has 20 years of experience in renewable energy, which started in Spain in the mid-90s through wind and solar energy projects. Acciona has installed 10,000 megawatts worldwide, mostly in wind, solar, hydro and biomass projects.
He said the company has a big team of engineers, financial and legal experts that could optimize the design of energy projects, including their construction and operation. This would allow the company to offer competitive electricity prices, he added.
“We have an office here,” he said, referring to a lone staff in the energy business. “We are in the business development stage but very soon we’re going to have more people here because we have pretty good opportunities to grow in the Philippines.”