Nickel Asia starts solar farm

Emerging Power Corp., a company controlled by Nickel Asia Corp., broke ground for a 100-megawatt solar project and a 50-MW wind site in Subic Bay Freeport over the weekend.

Nickel Asia vice president for corporate communication Jose Bayani  Baylon said the renewable energy projects would be located “within Aeta community area below the Sta Rita mountain.”

“Construction will begin Monday on the substation to be erected next to the current SBMA [Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority] substation. By October, construction will begin on the solar and wind power area. Target commissioning is February 2016,”  Baylon said.

He said the project was being undertaken by Jobin-SQM Inc., a locator in Subic Bay Freeport, which was bought by Emerging Power, a subsidiary of Nickel Asia.

“The Subic project is one of three [projects] that EPI-NAC is going into.  Biliran and Palawan are next,” he said.

Emerging Power chairman Antonio Martin Zamora said once completed, the Subic project “will be the largest solar and wind project in Southeast Asia.”

“And nothing can better represent the future than renewable energy technology that Pope Francis himself has encouraged societies to go into,” Zamora said.

SBMA earlier approved Emerging Power’s acquisition of a 90-percent stake in local company Jobin-Sqm.

Jobin-SQM earlier signed a 50-year lease agreement with SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia for the wind and solar development of an 800-hectare property in Mt. Sta. Rita, about kilometers from Olongapo City.

“This time we are bringing clean and renewable power to SBMA. What better way to spark progress and growth to the people of Subic and investors in the country’s first Freeport than by making clean and stable power available to them,” Zamora said earlier.

Nickel Asia holds majority stake in Emerging Power’s investments. Nickel Asia earlier said it would guarantee the loan facility of Emerging Power for up to P3 billion over a three-year period to finance renewable energy projects.

Nickel Asia said it earmarked $60 million for the purchase of Jobin-SQM and Phase 1 of the project, which would initially be able to generate up to 25 MW of solar power.

Jobin-SQM released a feasibility report in March which showed that the site was a suitable location for a solar energy facility that could produce up to 100 MW.

The report cited “convenient traffic, superior geographic position and rich solar energy resources” as factors proving the viability of the project.

Mt. Sta. Rita Solar project is expected to reduce coal consumption by 44,300 tons per year. This meets the objectives of the Philippines’ national energy policy to reduce reliability on fossil fuels and alleviate pollution.

The facility is expected to cost $200 million and should be operational by June 2016.

Emerging Power is also putting up a 40-MW geothermal power company in Oriental Mindoro, a 10-MW solar project in Camarines Sur, a 2.5-MW biogas project in Quezon and a 10-MW solar and bunker hybrid project in Northern Palawan.

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