The Australian arm of Philippines-based energy company ACEN Corporation has signed a green term-loan facility with a syndicate of major international banks worth $277 million as part of its ambition to raise more than $600 million to help grow its renewables capacity in Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region to 20 GW by 2030.
ACEN, which claims to already have approximately 4,000 MW of attributable capacity in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Australia, said the new loan facility will provide capital financing to expand ACEN Australia’s renewable energy portfolio, which is expected to be a significant contributor to the company’s renewables ambitions.
A subsidiary of the Philippines-based Ayala Corporation conglomerate, ACEN said it has more than 1.5 GW of projects across New South Wales (NSW), Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia “under construction or at an advanced stage of development” and the new loan will allow it to advance those projects.
“The funds will be allocated to finance the development and construction of ACEN’s project pipeline in Australia encompassing solar, wind, battery storage, pumped hydro power and energy storage,” the company said in a statement.
The first of these projects, the New England Solar Farm, is expected to be in operation by the middle of 2023 after the project, being developed near Uralla in northern NSW, was last month granted formal registration to send power to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
ACEN said energy production from the 400 MW first stage of the New England Solar Farm is now underway after the project generated and delivered 5 MW of clean renewable energy into the NEM.
Construction of the first stage of the solar farm and 50 MW/50 MWh battery energy storage system commenced in early 2022. The estimated $768 million project will eventually see a 720 MW solar farm co-located with battery energy storage. There is potential for the energy storage system to be scaled up to 200 MW/400 MWh.
The company has also commenced construction of the 400 MW Stubbo Solar Farm and associated 200 MW/200 MWh battery energy storage project being developed near Dubbo in the NSW central west.
ACEN Australia this week awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to PCL Construction with notice to proceed already having been issued.
ACEN Australia Construction Manager Tim Greenaway said all major contracts are now in place, including the connection agreement with infrastructure service provider Lumea and the execution of PV module supply contracts.
“It is exciting to finalise the EPC with PCL Construction for the development of the Stubbo Solar project,” he said. “We look forward to working with them over the next several years to deliver the project and help support the transition to a low emission generation supply in NSW.”
Other projects in the company’s Australian portfolio include the proposed 600 MW Birriwa solar farm and battery project also in NSW, a share in the 250 MW Baroota pumped hydro and 300 MW Bridle Track solar projects in South Australia, and the 160 MW Axedale Solar Farm in Victoria, which may also come to include a battery energy storage system. ACEN is also pursuing wind projects in NSW and Tasmania.
The new loan facility is backed by the Bank of China (BOC) in Manila and Hong Kong, CTBC Bank in Manila and Singapore, and Standard Chartered Bank in Australia. ACEN said Bank of China was the green loan structuring bank, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia served as the agent for the loan facility.
ACEN Australia Chief Executive Officer Anton Rohner said the loan facility is a follow on from several transactions completed last year.
“This syndicated green term loan facility continues to build on the funding secured at the end of last year, and will be mobilised into our Australian portfolio,” he said. ‘With Stubbo 520 MWdc project reaching notice to proceed late in 2022, ACEN continues on the journey in decarbonising Australia. It is exciting to work with quality financial institutions, and the appetite for quality investments is real.”
In August 2022, ACEN Australia executed a $100 million loan facility with DBS Bank Australia. The following month, ACEN executed an agreement with the Sydney branch of global financial group MUFG for an up to $140 million loan facility and secured a $75 million green debt facility with the Australian government-owned Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).