Thai Solar Energy to Spend 14 Billion Baht on New Projects

Thai Solar Energy Co., Southeast Asia’s only solar-thermal energy producer, plans to spend more than 14 billion baht ($447 million) over the next five years to develop projects with a total capacity of 135 megawatts.

The company’s first plant, a 5-megawatt facility in the Huaykrachao district of Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, will start operations next month and supply power to the state-run Provincial Electricity Authority under a 10-year purchase contract, Chief Operating Officer Cathleen Maleenont said today.

Thai Solar plans to increase its total capacity to 35 megawatts in the next two years, and develop 11 more projects within three to five years, she said. The company secured 3 billion baht from Thai banks to fund the first stage of development and is in talks with potential partners for future projects, Chief Financial Officer Prapharat Tangkawattana said.

The plants will use a direct-steam generation system that is as much as 27 percent more efficient than traditional photovoltaic plants, which convert solar radiation into direct current electricity. The investment cost for solar-thermal energy is about 30 percent to 40 percent more expensive per megawatt than photovoltaics, Prapharat said.

Solar-thermal energy “is definitely a big challenge for a newcomer as much as it is an opportunity,” Prapharat said. Costs will fall as the company adds capacity, while Thailand’s government also provides subsidies to solar power developers to promote investment in alternative energy, she said.

Duckwitz, Germany-based Solarlite GmbH supplied parabolic mirrors for the plant, Man Diesel & Turbo Se supplied turbines and Schott AG provided receiver tubes, Prapharat said.

Thai Solar’s second plant, a 9-megawatt facility located in Dermbang Nangbuad district in Suphunburi province, will start supplying electricity by the end of next year, generating revenue of as much as 200 million baht a year, she said.

Thailand’s Maleenont family owns a majority stake in Thai Solar Energy, which was established in 2008.

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