AC Energy’s $481-m solar venture in Australia reaches financial close

AC Energy and Infrastructure Corp. of the Ayala Group said Monday its solar joint venture in Australia reached a financial closing on the first phase of the project involving 400 megawatts and a cost of $481 million (Au$619 million).

UPC\AC Renewables Australia, a 50/50 joint venture between ACEIC and UPC Renewables, reached financial closing on the first stage of the New England Solar Farm project at Uralla in New South Wales, which has started early works, including substation and road design late last year.

UPC\AC Renewables Australia is building what will ultimately be a combined 720-MW solar and 400-megawatt-hour battery at the site.

“The New England Solar Farm is a major milestone for AC Energy as our first project in Australia,” said Patrice Clausse, AC Energy International chief operating officer.

“This is the product of a fruitful partnership with UPC and our local Australian team. We look forward to helping Australia achieve and exceed its long-term decarbonization goals by continuing to develop and construct more renewable energy projects in the country,” Clausse said.

ACEIC committed $320 million (Au$411 million) of equity to the first phase of the project. The joint venture did not say how much financing was raised for the project.

Debt financing for the initial stage of the project is being provided by Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Bank of China.

Grid connection and initial energy production is expected to occur by July 2022. The remainder of the project is projected to be completed around the end of 2023.

The solar farm is being built by Green Light Contractors, the local subsidiary of Elecnor, a leading Spanish engineering, procurement and construction contractor with extensive experience building solar plants and transmission assets around the world.

Once fully constructed, the New England Solar Farm will produce enough energy to power 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 Liddell Power Station.

The project is seen to bring significant value to the local community with up to 500 direct construction jobs during the construction period, generating employment opportunities for locals from Uralla and the surrounding region.

The New England Solar Farm will contribute significantly to AC Energy’s goal of reaching 5,000 MW of renewables capacity by 2025, towards becoming the largest listed renewables platform in Southeast Asia.

The company aims to lead the way in the clean energy transition of the region by accelerating its sustainable investments.

UPC\AC Renewables also plans to install up to a 400 MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility, with the first 50 MWh, which is supported by the NSW Emerging Energy Program, expected to become operational in mid-2022.

The battery system will assist with electricity grid stability and provide firm capability to deliver energy at peak periods, lowering prices for consumers.

“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 Australia views this project fitting into the NSW Government RoadMap and look forward to being engaged in this process to help lower electricity prices in NSW,” said UPC\AC Renewables chief executive Anton Rohner.

“The New England Solar Farm is the first project within our large portfolio to reach financial close and we are very excited about building our first project in Australia. We would like to thank our partner AC Energy for their financial and technical support in making this project a reality. This is a very large energy project even for Australia, and we are proud to be associated with the New England Solar Farm and the local community and helping to transition NSW towards a clean, lower cost energy future, “ said UPC Renewables executive chairman Brian Caffyn.

ACEIC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp., one of the largest and most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines. ACEIC is the holding company for Ayala’s energy and infrastructure businesses, and owns majority interest in AC Energy Corp.

Topics: AC Energy and Infrastructure Corp. , Ayala Group , UPC\AC Renewables Australia , New England Solar Farm , solar venture , Australia
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