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AC Energy boosts renewable energy holdings:
BusinessWorld Online - March 18, 2017

AC Energy Holdings, Inc. signed a deal to buy the renewable energy operations of Bronzeoak Clean Energy Inc. (BCE) and San Carlos Clean Energy (SCCE) to ramp up its energy portfolio.

In a regulatory filing on Friday, the Ayala-led company said that the “acquisition provides AC Energy with a renewable energy development, management and operations platform that has a track record of successful project development.”

The acquisition will provide operations and management support services to several renewable energy generation companies namely San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc., Negros Island Solar Energy, Inc., Monte Solar Energy, Inc., San Carlos BioPower, Inc., South Negros BioPower, Inc., and North Negros BioPower, Inc.

BCE is locally known as the leading developer of renewable energy projects.

The deal provides AC Energy with a strong development and operations organization in order to accelerate its renewable energy expansion and keep it on track to hitting its target to expand its portfolio of renewable energy to 1,000 megawatts by 2020.

““We are excited about this acquisition, as it strengthens AC Energy’s development capabilities. I believe that AC Energy can scale up its renewable energy portfolio to 1,000MW by 2020,” Eric T. Francia, AC Energy’s president and CEO, was quoted as saying in the statement.

With the acquisition, SCCE and BCE have been renamed AC Energy DevCo, Inc. and Visayas Renewables Corp., respectively.

AC Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of conglomerate Ayala Corp. It aims to build a portfolio of power generation assets of 2,000 MW in both renewable and conventional energy sources in three year’s time.

On Friday, trading of Ayala shares climbed 0.36% to P830.00 apiece from the prior trading day.
-- Janina C. Lim


NGCP vows unified power grid by 2020:
Inquirer.Net - February 06, 2017

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has completed the first step toward unifying the nation’s three power grids after a recently conducted hydrographic survey found the country’s western seaboard suitable for the laying of a Visayas-Mindanao submarine power cable.

This route—beginning in Cebu and terminating in Dipolog and slated to cost the company P52 billion to execute —was determined to be feasible under a company-commissioned study conducted from September to November 2016.

With the Luzon and Visayas electricity grids long having been connected via NGCP’s Naga–Ormoc High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) line, the proposed Visayas-Mindanao connection will help ensure that electricity can be distributed and shared among the country’s three island groups, helping mitigate shortages when power plants shut down in one area or another.

Barring unforeseen circumstances and unavoidable delays, the project is estimated to be completed by December 2020.

“NGCP is pleased to report that we already finished the hydrographic survey that will determine the route of the Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project (VMIP),” the company said in a statement. “With this development, we now have a clearer plan on the project’s implementation. Power resource sharing between the country’s major islands will now become a reality.”

Previous feasibility studies conducted by the state-owned National Power Corp., one dating back to as early as 1984, were deferred by the government, which was then the grid operator.

An earlier study conducted by NGCP showed eastern routes as unsuitable for submarine cable ground laying because of a significant quantity of live ordinance – torpedoes and high explosive shells – from the Battle of Surigao in 1944, an underwater volcano, fault lines and seismic hazards such as unstable rock slabs that can cause landslips and tsunamis.

NGCP is seeking the support of the public and its stakeholders for the full and immediate implementation of the project.

“NGCP assures its stakeholders of the company’s dedication to determine the most reliable and cost-efficient path to completion,” the firm said. “This is a large undertaking. We want this facility to be state-of-the-art as well as sturdy enough to last generations. We are considering many factors in the design and implementation of the project, including changing weather conditions. Ensuring the quality and reliability of power transmission services to both Visayas and Mindanao customers is of paramount importance.”

With the hydrographic survey result, NGCP will now proceed with the preparation of a conceptual design, detailed cost-estimate and update of system simulation study using the Cebu-Dipolog route in order to complete documents needed for its ERC application by April this year.

Inland and route surveys for substations and associated overhead transmission lines will also coincide with the preparation of documents.

“We need the support of the government, the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the different local government units the project will traverse, among others, to push this forward. With their full support, we are confident that we will be able to complete this project on time,” the company said.

NGCP is a privately owned corporation in charge of operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid. It transmits high-voltage electricity through “power superhighways” that include the interconnected system of transmission lines, towers, substations and related assets.
--Daxim L. Lucas

Turning point: Solar becomes cheaper than wind energy:
Manila Bulletin - December 17, 2016

There’s a transformation happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.

There have been isolated projects in the past where this happened: An especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNFF).

The chart below shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies including China, India, and Brazil. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon.

“Solar investment has gone from nothing — literally nothing — like five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of US policy analysis at BNEF. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar” and helping other countries finance their own projects.

Half the Price of Coal

This year has seen a remarkable run for solar power. Auctions, where private companies compete for massive contracts to provide electricity, established record after record for cheap solar power. It started with a contract in January to produce electricity for $64 per megawatt-hour in India; then a deal in August pegging $29.10 per megawatt hour in Chile. That’s record-cheap electricity — roughly half the price of competing coal power.

“Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting” fossil fuel prices, BNEF chairman Michael Liebreich said in a note to clients this week.

Those are new contracts, but there are plenty of projects reaching completion this year, too. When all of the 2016 completions are tallied in the  coming months, it’s likely that the total amount of solar photovoltaics added globally will exceed that of wind for the first time. The latest BNEF projections call for 70 gigawatts of newly installed solar power in 2016 compared with 59 gigawatts of wind.

The overall shift to clean energy can be more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new solar must compete with existing billion-dollar coal and gas plants. But in countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said Liebreich.

The world recently passed a turning point and is adding more capacity for clean energy each year than for coal and natural gas combined. Peak fossil fuel use for electricity may be reached within the next decade.

Thursday’s BNEF report, called Climatescope, ranks and profiles emerging markets for their ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy projects. The top-scoring markets were China, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and India.

When it comes to renewable energy investment, emerging markets have taken the lead over the 35 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spending $154.1 billion in 2015 compared with $153.7 billion by those wealthier countries, BNEF said.

The growth rates of clean-energy deployment are higher in these emerging market states, so they are likely to remain the clean energy leaders indefinitely, especially now that three quarters have established clean-energy targets. --Tom Randall