Ayala firm completes financial closing on Australia solar project

Published February 15, 2021, 2:45 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Ayala-led AC Energy and Infrastructure Corporation (ACEIC) and its Hongkong-headquartered partner UPC Renewables have engaged three foreign banks for the loans they have secured for the 400-megawatt(ac) first phase of their solar farm installation in New South Wales, Australia.

In a statement to the media, the Ayala firm stated that the lenders to the project had been Westpac; Commonwealth Bank of Australia; and Bank of China. The loan amount had been at 619 million Australian dollars; while the joint venture (JV) partners committed equity of US$320 million, according to AC Energy.

Photo credit: https://www.acenergy.com.ph

“It’s exciting to achieve financial close on a merchant basis for such a large project, which is the first of many such projects we have in Australia,” UPC\AC Renewables Chief Executive Officer Anton Rohner said.

He added “this is the culmination of 3.5 years of hard work by our team and excellent engagement with the local community.” UPC\AC Renewables is a 50:50 joint venture between ACEIC of the Ayala group and that of UPC Renewables.

The 400MWac (521.5MWdc) installation is the initial phase of the solar project; while the second phase will be for 320MW for an aggregate capacity of 720MW New England solar farm at Uralla upon completion.

“This is the first stage of what will ultimately be a combined 720MW solar and 400-megawatt hour (MWh) battery at the site,” AC Energy said.

Following its financial closing milestone, the developer firm noted that “grid connection and initial energy production is expected to occur by July 2022.”

The company further indicated “the remainder of the project is projected to be placed in service by around the end of 2023.”

AC Energy announced last year that Green Light Contractors, a subsidiary of Spanish firm Elecnor, had been tapped for the project’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.

“Once fully constructed, the New England solar farm, will produce enough energy to power approximately 250,000 typical NSW households each year and will supply energy to the market to help fill the gap left by the expected closure of the Liddel power station,” – that is in reference to a coal-fired power facility in Australia due for decommissioning in April 2023.

At construction phase, the New England solar farm venture is expected generating at least 500 direct construction-related jobs, hence, providing employment opportunity for its host community in Uralla as well as neighboring regions.

The Australia solar project, is by far, the single biggest installation that AC Energy is pursuing on its target markets; and this is seen contributing to its 5,000MW capacity shoring up through year 2025.

Australia is one of the key expansion markets cast by AC Energy; aside from the developments it has also been advancing in other offshore markets particularly in India, Myanmar and Vietnam; aside from the continued investments it has been injecting in the Philippines.