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ACEN eyes long-term deals for project in Australia

ACEN Corp. is aiming to bid for long-term energy service agreements in Australia for a pumped hydro project that was chosen to receive funding to undergo feasibility studies.

In a media release on Thursday, the Ayala-led company said studies for its proposed large-scale, long-duration renewable energy storage facility have been progressing with the support of the New South Wales (NSW) government.

“This project has the potential to facilitate more renewable projects in the Central West Orana region and provide valuable firming services in NSW,” said Anton Rohner, chief executive officer of ACEN’s Australia unit.

The project — Phoenix Pumped Hydro — is an 800-megawatt (MW), 12-hour pumped hydro project. It will enable dispatchable energy generators to complement renewable energy projects, “providing energy when the sun isn’t shining and when the wind isn’t blowing,” ACEN said.

If found feasible and constructed, it will offer energy storage solutions to support nearby wind and solar assets, the company added.

Mr. Rohner said Phoenix Pumped Hydro will be bidding for long-term contracts for long-duration storage under Australia’s Electricity Infrastructure Investment Safeguard.

“Our focus is on ensuring that we develop a project that offers the right mix of benefits and opportunities for the region and the State of NSW. We’ll be calling for inputs from community and stakeholders soon to help shape the project,” he said.

ACEN said that should Phoenix Pumped Hydro be found viable, it is expected to start construction in 2025 and be operational before 2030. It added that the project is aligned with the NSW government’s target of at least 2 gigawatts (GW) of new long-duration storage by 2030.

The project has been chosen via a competitive selection process to receive feasibility funding to determine “if it can support NSW energy security, help replace retiring coal-fired generation capacity, and support the achievement” of the NSW government’s renewable energy objectives outlined in its electricity strategy, ACEN said.

The project is being supported through a 7-million Australian dollars in feasibility study funding by EnergyCo under its pumped hydro recoverable grants program, it added.

“These funds will help deliver the valuable renewable energy firming capacity needed and we commend the NSW government for supporting such exceptional technologies,” said Patrice R. Clausse, chief executive officer of ACEN International, adding that the project is part of ACEN’s target to deliver 20 GW of renewables by 2030.

ACEN Australia is said to have more than 1.5 GW of projects in the pipeline, under construction, or at an advanced stage of development.

In a separate disclosure on Thursday, ACEN said that its directors approved at a special board meeting held on Wednesday the memorandum of agreement with its unit North Luzon Renewable Energy Corp. for a conservation estate program.

According to ACEN’s website, the North Luzon wind farm is its largest wind farm in the Philippines with an installed capacity of 81 MW.

The energy firm’s board also approved the investment for and construction of an access road and transmission line for subsidiaries Gigasol1, Inc. and SolarAce2 Energy Corp. for a solar power plant project to be developed in Botolan, Zambales.

At the local bourse, shares in the company rose by 21 centavos or 3.04% to end at P7.11 apiece. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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