By James A. Loyola
Nickel Asia Corporation, the country’s top nickel miner, is raising its stake in renewable energy subsidiary Emerging Power Inc. to 91 percent from 66 percent through the conversion of a P1.5 billion loan into equity.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Nickel Asia said it has entered into a Deed of Assignment with EPI for the assignment of its P1.5 billion advances in EPI following a Capital Call made by EPI.
In consideration for the assignment, EPI shall, subject to the approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission of an increase in EPI’s Authorized Capital Stock, 1.19 billion shares in favor of Nickel Asia.
Last year, Nickel Asia infused P660 million in additional equity into EPI together with the extension of a P1.5 billion three-year term loan.
These funds, together with bank financing at the project company level, was meant to complete EPI projects of 105 Megawatt (MW) lined up for 2016.
The fund raising came after its fully owned subsidiary, Jobin-SQM, Inc. (JSI), energized 7 MW of solar power. This represents the first phase of its 100 MW solar farm project located at the Subic Bay Freeport. The balance of 93 MW is targeted for completion in 2016.
The 100 MW solar project, slated to be one of the country’s largest, is expected to be completed at a total project cost of close to R8 billion. The JSI RE Service Contract also includes a 50 MW wind farm, which is scheduled for development in 2017.
The funds were also used for the development of the first geothermal power plant with a capacity of 5 MW under its 60 percent-owned subsidiary, Biliran Geothermal, Inc. (BGI). The total project cost is estimated at about P800 million.
Seven holes have previously been drilled in the Biliran geothermal field by its 40% partner in BGI, all of which exhibit the required temperatures for the production of geothermal power.
The development of additional plants and required infrastructure, as well as further drilling of this potentially large geothermal field, is currently under study.
“We have gained a lot of momentum in the past year especially in our Subic project and also in the other areas. EPI is determined to develop all of these clean energy projects in the soonest possible time,” –said NAC President Gerard H. Brimo.