Ayala group picks Spanish firm for Australia solar farm

AYALA-LED AC Energy, Inc. and its partner in Australia have tapped a Spanish-listed contractor to build their large-scale renewables project.

Elecnor, S.A. bagged the AU$500-million engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the first phase of the 720-megawatt (MW) hybrid solar and battery project in New South Wales (NSW). The firm specializes in developing renewable power infrastructure and space technologies.

The first 400-MW stage of the New England solar farm project is expected to be completed “over the next two years,” along with the first phase 50-MW or one-hour battery energy storage system, which will be supported by the NSW government, the company said on late Wednesday.

The project, once fully done, is seen to produce 1,800 gigawatts of clean power annually, covering over 250,000 typical households in NSW.

“It will be the biggest solar farm under construction in Australia,” UPC Renewables Chairman Brian Caffyn claimed.

The construction for the first project phase will begin next year, according to UPCAC Renewables Chief Executive Officer Anton Rohner.

“An upgrade to the local roads connecting to the solar farm is already progressed, as well as completion of environmental management plans,” he said.

UPCAC Renewables Australia, the joint venture of the Ayalas and the Hong Kong-based UPC Renewables Group, received a development consent for the solar farm from the Australian state in March, while it signed a grid connection agreement with NSW’s transmission network operator TransGrid in June.

Also, the joint venture launched in September a community fund, which started at AU$100,000. It will increase to AU$180,000 each year after the power facility will be commissioned.

The New England solar facility will put the joint venture and Australia at the “forefront of renewable energy development in the Asia-Pacific region,” according to Patrice R. Clausse, chief operating officer of AC Energy International.

“Together with our long-time partner, UPC Renewables, AC Energy intends to harness Australia’s growth potential for renewable energy while contributing to their renewable energy goals,” he added.

AC Energy and UPC are also developing other renewable projects around Australia: a 250 MW hydropower plant and 300 MW solar farm in South Australia; a 160 MW solar facility in Victoria; and a 1,200 MW renewable energy parks in northwest Tasmania.

Last month, AC Energy’s affiliate UAC Energy Holdings pulled out its investment in Infigen Energy, Ltd., which it had tried to take over since June. Its rival bidder, Spanish multinational utility Iberdrola, received its 20% stake worth A$178 million, and is now poised to fully control the listed power firm.

Shares in AC Energy Philippines, Inc. were unchanged at P3.10 each on Thursday. — Adam J. Ang

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