Source: Business World

As climate change takes center stage as one of the world’s most pressing challenges, and countries race to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy towards the post-COVID world, AC Energy recognized the opportune time to make a difference and lead the renewable energy revolution. 

The company currently has 2,100 MW of renewables capacity, on track to attain its goal of 5,000 MW of renewables capacity by 2025, and become the largest renewables platform in Southeast Asia.

Established ten years ago by Ayala Corporation to address the country’s energy needs while building a new pillar for the Ayala Group, AC Energy set out to achieve scale and profitability within five years, reaching 1,000 MW of capacity from a standing start with zero MW.

After the successful nurturing of strategic partnerships, AC Energy strategically pivoted and focused on renewables and regional expansion to take advantage of the strong government support, enabling policies, technology improvements, and cost efficiencies in the market. The company took strides to significantly increase its renewables capacity in the region while carrying out strategic acquisitions to establish development and operating capabilities.

“AC Energy managed to augment its generation portfolio substantially every year since it began in 2011,” said AC Energy President & CEO Eric Francia. “The company recognizes the need for a sustainable energy future, and we are aggressively expanding our renewables presence across the country and the region to lead the renewables revolution in the Asia Pacific.”

Today, AC Energy has evolved to become the listed energy platform and one of the core businesses of the Ayala group.

Since the shift towards renewable energy in 2016, the company embraced the culture of sustainable development and has integrated its decarbonization strategy into its business model and capital raising strategies.

In March 2020, AC Energy announced the board approval of its E&S policy, incorporating sustainability in its business and organization. At the core of the policy is the company’s transition to a low carbon portfolio and divestment of its coal plants by 2030.

Last year, while the COVID-19 pandemic led to the country’s worst recession in history and impacted healthcare and economic systems with unprecedented scale, AC Energy remained focused on its goal to be a pivotal contributor to sustainable growth and development and lead the green recovery. The company carried out the construction of its projects across the region that created over 7,000 new jobs which became vital pieces in reigniting the economy and spurring economic activity.

The turbines of the 80-MW Mui Ne wind farm carry the largest rotor diameter for an onshore project in Asia at 158 meters, the first blades to be transported in two pieces before assembly on site.

Most recently, AC Energy completed the infusion of its international assets, allowing it to be  nearly halfway to its goal of reaching 5,000 MW of renewables capacity by 2025. Currently, the company has around 2,600 MW of attributable capacity in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and Australia, with a renewable share capacity of 80%, which is among the highest in the region.

In the Philippines, AC Energy began the operations of two new solar plants, the 120-MW GigaSol Alaminos and 63-MW GigaSol Palauig, and broke ground on the 72-MW Arayat-Mexico solar farm.  The company is also gearing up to develop the country’s largest wind farm, the 160-MW GigaWind Pagudpud. To complement its renewable energy projects and ensure power reliability, the company is also completing its 40-MWh battery storage project in Alaminos Laguna and the 150-MW quick response thermal plant in Pililla, Rizal.

Across the region, AC Energy’s renewable energy projects reached 1,000 MW in Vietnam, operation and under construction. In India, two solar farms, the 140-MW Sitara Solar and 70-MW Paryapt Solar, began their operations, while in Australia, the company has reached financial close for the first 521-MW stage of the New England Solar Farm at Uralla in New South Wales.

To accelerate its growth further, the company completed its stock rights offering in January 2021 that raised ₱5.4 billion — followed by an ₱11.9-billion primary share investment by GIC affiliate Arran Investment and a ₱10.3-billion follow-on offering. Most recently, AC Energy successfully issued its US dollar-denominated senior guaranteed undated fixed-for-life green bonds at US$400 million. A total of US$1 billion in fresh capital was raised, which the company may use to fund its renewable energy pipeline.

“The funds will help accelerate AC Energy’s aggressive renewables expansion and enable the company to lead the green recovery. AC Energy aims to be a forerunner in the renewable energy sector and sustainable investing,” Mr. Francia said.

Partnering with communities, towards a better future

AC Energy remains committed to its vision of a sustainable future, and its commitment to sustainability is linked to its corporate strategy and vision and aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Guided by its Environmental & Social (E&S) Policy, the company’s sustainability framework is built on three focus areas embedded across its business operations, governance, and culture: having a low carbon portfolio by 2030, protecting the environment, and investing in communities.

AC Energy currently monitors and protects over 1,070 hectares of forestlands and habitats spread across the region as a steward for the environment. The company conducts biodiversity assessments periodically to determine the types of species on these project sites and their vulnerability status. Since 2018, AC Energy has invested in habitat protection and restoration programs, with over ₱48 million allocated on initiatives that aim to create a positive impact on biodiversity.
Over 700 hectares of forest land are protected under the Conservative Estate program of AC Energy.
Since AC Energy’s reforestation initiatives began in 2014, the company has planted close to 450,000 seedlings, including endemic and fruit-bearing trees. In Ilocos Norte, the company’s 700-hectare Conservation Estate has become a critical wildlife habitat in the Northern Luzon region, now home to 117 species, 33 of which are endemic, and four are classified as vulnerable. The forest protection program also features livelihood programs complemented through seedling production and agroforestry. Long-term sustainability programs anchored on excellent environmental management and biodiversity protection and social programs aim to improve lives within its host communities.

Meanwhile, to help reduce the environmental impact in its construction sites and host communities, AC Energy developed a program to use its resources sustainably and eliminate waste by reusing or recycling collected waste while also creating income and livelihood for the community.

In the Alaminos and Palauig construction sites, a total of 32,540 kg of plastic from solar panel packaging were upcycled into eco-bricks, which were then used as construction materials for the plant facilities.

The renewable energy developments of AC Energy are living examples of the company’s efforts to create shared value in the communities where it operates — ensuring renewable energy supply while strengthening community vitality.

As AC Energy moves closer to its 5,000-MW goal by 2025, the company is also committed to zero coal by 2030, as announced in March of 2020. AC Energy aligns itself with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement on reducing global carbon emissions to limit the global temperature increase to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius. AC Energy has started to develop targets and measures to help drive its sustainability agenda across the organization and with its business partners