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ACEN opens solar farm in Australia, plans 8 GW more

A UNIT of Ayala-led ACEN Corp. opened its solar project’s first 521-megawatt direct current (MWdc) in Australia, which required the installation of about a million solar panels.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the energy company said that the project, New England Solar, will be one of the largest projects in Australia to participate in the foreign country’s National Electricity Market (NEM).

“I truly believe that the work ACEN Australia is doing to accelerate Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future is here and now — and it starts with New England Solar,” ACEN Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anton Rohner said in a statement.

In total, the solar farm will have a capacity of 936 MWdc, which was approved by the New South Wales (NSW) government in 2020.

“We decided to build New England Solar on a fully merchant basis to ensure it is online in time to help replace closing coal-fired power stations in NSW. We wanted to get things built, to decarbonize Australia,” Mr. Rohner said.

The first stage began construction in March 2021 and is expected to generate a full nameplate capacity of 521 MWdc in the coming months.

The project, which is located near Uralla in the NSW government’s New England renewable energy zone, was built with the support of host landholders, “First Nations” people, and the Uralla community.

“ACEN Australia is investing more than (Australian) AU$5 million in community funding into Uralla over the next 25 years as part of New England Solar,” the company said.

ACEN Australia’s Uralla grants program aims to provide assistance and support to the community, AU$200,000 of which will be delivered by the time the first stage of New England Solar is completed.

ACEN President and CEO Eric T. Francia said the overseas unit is eyeing to increase its capacity in Australia by 8 gigawatts (GW).

“ACEN Australia has around 1 GW capacity worth US$1 billion in construction, and more than 8 GW capacity in the development pipeline. This represents ACEN’s largest investment outside of the Philippines,” Mr. Francia said.

“With this milestone, we reaffirm our commitment to strengthen Australia’s energy security while bolstering its roadmap to a low carbon future as we work towards our goal of 20 GW of renewables by 2030,” he added.

In a separate disclosure, ACEN announced the resignation of its chief audit executive, Michael E. Limbo. The resignation, which was said to be for personal reasons, is said to be effective by March 30.

“The Board of Directors will elect his replacement as Chief Audit Executive in due course,” ACEN said.

On Monday, ACEN shares rose by P0.05 or 0.85% to finish at P5.95 on the stock exchange. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

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