Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., a producer of solar panels, will supply 9.43MW of solar panels and technical support for the second phase of a 44MW solar power plant (38MW AC output) in Thailand. Owned by Bangchak Petroleum Public Co., Ltd., and integrated by Solartron Public Co., Ltd., the landmark solar power plant will be one of the largest in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
The 9.43MW contract comes after Suntech was chosen to provide 34.5MW of solar panels and technical support for the project's first phase, announced in August 2010.
"This is another strong step forward with Bangchak and Solartron, as we work together to drive the emerging solar industry in Thailand and Southeast Asia," said Andrew Beebe, Suntech's Chief Commercial Officer. "With steady economic growth, burgeoning electricity demands, and plenty of excellent sunlight, countries throughout the region stand to benefit both economically and environmentally by harnessing nature's most abundant energy resource."
With groundwork construction underway, the complete 44MW capacity solar power plant remains on schedule to be grid-connected by late-2011. The facility will then generate decades of renewable energy for the booming metropolis and surrounding areas, which will be purchased and distributed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) under long-term power purchase agreements. Altogether, the project will create more than 200 local jobs in Thailand for the facility's development, installation and maintenance.
"This historic solar project represents the beginning of our fifteen billion Bhat initiative to develop around 140MW of installed solar capacity in Thailand," said Dr. Anusorn Sangnimnuan, President of the Bangchak Petroleum Public Co., Ltd. "We are excited about working with Suntech to achieve long-term energy security and to combat climate change, as we strive to become a carbon-neutral company."
On October 12th, Bangchak signed a 15-year loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for up to B4.2 billion (US$140 million), part of ADB's Asia Solar Energy Initiative to support projects that will help Asia realize its solar power potential. The strategic initiative aims to provide US$2.25 billion in financial support to facilitate 3,000 megawatts of solar power capacity in ADB's developing member countries by mid-2013.
"This project makes it clear that large-scale solar power plants are viable in Thailand and in other countries in Asia," said Daniel Wiedmer, Investment Specialist with ADB's Private Sector Operations Department. "Solar energy will help to power Thailand's economic expansion and meet growing industrial and residential demand for power in a way that will generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than if the country were to rely on fossil fuels alone."
Located in Bang Pa-In, Ayutthaya, forty kilometers outside Bangkok, the solar project represents a major milestone in Thailand's ambitious goal to meet 20% of its total energy consumption with renewable sources by 2022. Thailand is one of Southeast Asia's largest energy consumers, and EGAT projects the country's energy demand to grow by an average 4.22% annually between 2008 and 2020. According to the Thailand Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), Thailand imported 54% of its primary energy consumption in 2009, down from 68% in 2004, as the country seeks to achieve greater energy security through the utilization of local, renewable energy resources.
Bangchak estimates that the 44MW capacity solar power plant could annually reduce the need to import about 40,000 tons of coal and mitigate 32,000 tons of CO2 emissions, similar to planting 3,000,000 trees or removing 9,000 cars from the roads. Upon completion, the clean and quiet solar facility will be open to the community, as an on-site visitor center - featuring an elegant Suntech building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) installation - will invite local schools, residents, and tourists to learn about solar technology.