AC Energy open to offshore wind, hydrogen power, floating solar

eric francia edited

Ayala-led AC Energy said that it is open to other forms of renewable energy, (RE) specifically offshore wind, floating solar, and even hydrogen.

During the Energy’s Sustainable Future in Renewables and Nuclear webinar on Wednesday, AC Energy President and CEO John Eric Francia indicated that offshore wind power power may be in its investment horizon, as well as other firms’.

“Offshore wind is probably 5-10 years away in terms of the competitiveness of the technology, [but] definitely since we’re looking at a long-term horizon here, [it] is something we should, as an industry, also take a look at,” Francia said.

Francia particularly emphasized that the cost of offshore wind is the same as battery energy storage systems (BESS) for now, but is hopeful that prices would eventually drop. He sees both offshore wind and BESS as mid-to-long-term solutions.

“Battery storage is still expensive at this point in time. It will improve over time, but at this point, it’s not feasible for renewables and [BESS] to be the answer. It will take time [for them] to be competitive and to scale up,” Francia explained.

“Green hydrogen,” Francia added, should also be on the table in 10-20 years time. This comes as the Department of Energy (DOE) has signed agreements with Australian and Japanese firms for research and development of hydrogen as a potential power source.

In the meantime, AC Energy is looking to develop its floating solar projects, specifically in the Laguna De Bay, which Francia said is a “great location” for such ventures.

Laguna De Bay, the country’s largest lake, has a surface area of around 90,000 hectares. Francia pointed out that up to 25% of the lake can be allotted for floating solar projects, in which one hectare can cover for one megawatt of power.

Francia recognizes that transmission would be a limiting factor, though sees an opportunity to pursue its floating solar projects.

AC Energy’s two floating solar projects in the Laguna Lake are to be located in Pililla and Jala-jala in Rizal. The DOE has endorsed both projects to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for system impact study.

“The good news about Laguna Lake is that it is almost at the center of the demand, as long as you can connect to the various substations. You relieve the pressure [on the NGCP] to keep on building transmission lines, which by the way is a major issue that has to be addressed due to right-of-way issues,” Francia said.

“We’re hoping that [the Laguna Lake Development Authority] would finalize its policy and start issuing its water rights to the various developers. That’s huge potential. Those are projects that can be done in the next two to three years, depending on how fast we can get the permitting process going, but we’re practically preparing for that,” he added.