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<JUN, Issue, 2012>
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APAC

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Thailand Is Fertile Ground for Solar Power

As a renowned early adopter of new technology, Thailand has become one of the leading nations in Southeast Asia to pursue wide-scale investment in the solar power arena.
Encouraged by progressive Thai government incentives to invest in and utilize solar power installations, numerous entrepreneurs, state agencies and private individuals are setting new benchmarks for the industry, at home and abroad.

By Alexander Lenz

 

 

With abundant sunlight almost daily, Thailands solar power players are guaranteed a consistent and effective return on investment, all the while making an enormously positive contribution to the preservation of the environment through the substitution of fossil fuels for power generation with state-of-the-art solar technology.

Even on cloudy days, particularly during the Thai rainy season, the latest technological advances in Photovoltaic (PV) cells ensure that users are able to rely on solar power 365 days a year to supplement their energy needs and also, through the growing proliferation of solar power farms, contribute to the generation of electricity for distribution through the national grid.

 

Safety First

 

Safety in power generation is of paramount importance, and with stringent regulations and professional installation, solar power generation is virtually risk free, unlike fossil fuel or nuclear power generation options. Recent history has shown that power generation facilities are extremely vulnerable to catastrophic events.

One of Thailands most forward-thinking investments in solar power generation is the recently completed Solarta 3 MW Sai Sena Solar Park in Ayutthaya, 70 km north of Bangkok, Thailand.

This solar park produces enough energy to power 1,530 Thai homes with its production potential of 4,471 megawatt hours of clean energy each year while also saving a phenomenal 1, 971 tons of carbon emissions annually.

This defining project, which is home to 40,000 solar modules, shows the future of solar power generation in Thailand and has become a model incubator for potential investment throughout the region. The park is anticipated to provide a double-digit return on investment over a period of 25 years and already it has outperformed expected energy production to date. Power generated at the park, which was the first privately-owned of its kind in Thailand, is fed to the mainline electricity grid of the Provincial Electricity Authority of Thailand (PEA).

As a sign of investor confidence in this financially viable future energy source, in July last year Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL, a leading independent power producer in Thailand, took a 60% stake in the 3 MW park through the acquisition of a stake in the plant from private developers Yanhee Solar Power Company Limited.

The PEA has in principle already approved further developments of this kind by Yanhee Solar associated companies worth more than US$100 million (THB3 billion), indicating the scale of progress made in this field in Thailand.

Solarta (the Yanhee Solar and Ratchaburi Electricity venture) is currently developing even more solar energy parks in Thailand. A second 12.4 MW park is now under construction in Nakhon Pathom province which will be more than four times as large as their first park. The turnkey solar expertise will once again be provided by Conergy and Annex Power.

 

True Costs

 

One of the most significant aspects of the launch of this project is the proof that investors in emerging market power generation, largely led by Thai entrepreneurs, have come to understand that the true cost to generate power should be assessed in terms of the cost produced per unit of electricity which is measured in kWh (kilowatt hour) instead of cost per unit of installed capacity which is measured in Wp (watt-peak).

The sole job of a solar panel is to generate electricity and we, therefore, believe that the most valid way of calculating power output should involve the actual amount of power each panel generates under average, on-site and real conditions, not in artificial science laboratory environments as power is fed to the grid.

The quality of the components, which includes the solar panel, inverter and mounting system is the key to long-term return on investment. This, coupled with the most professional installation infrastructure available and supreme attention to plant design and engineering, will determine the effectiveness of the power generation capability and also make a direct contribution to the bottom line.

Put simply, cheaper solar panels and substandard infrastructure might lead to shortterm cost savings but, in the medium- to long-term, the quality of the panel, inverter and supporting infrastructure will influence the quality and consistency of the investment returns.

Another factor to consider when investing in long-term solar power projects is risk. It is essential to manage the risks to protect the investment, and this can be done by taking out bespoke insurance policies which cover against damage, from floods, typhoons, etc. and also disruption to business either through social factors or prolonged low-sunlight days which affect output and therefore, the profitability of the business.

 

 

 

The Future Is Green Energy

 

While industrialized nations such as Thailand will continue to be dependent on fossilfuel to meet the majority of their power generation requirements in the near term, green energy from renewable power generation sources is increasingly being factored in to planning for future needs and growth.

Sustainable, cost-efficient green energy has become mainstream. Investors and consumers alike are, more and more, aware of the need to protect the environment and gradually move away from dependence on fossil fuels for power generation. This means that entrepreneurs have the opportunity to offer investors the option of green-powered environments, be they retail developments, industrial estates or private housing.

The green baht is gaining significant influence and many investment funds are seeking ethical investments which can illustrate an ever-increasing concentration on green energy.

The government of Thailand has set a goal to provide 20.4% of the countrys energy needs from renewable resources by 2022. To date, the Ministry of Energy has received applications for over 3 GW of solar plants which represent 6 times the national target for solar energy.

From a simple-looking PV panel, a whole new generation is being catered for. Thailand truly is fertile ground for harnessing the power of the sun.

 

Alexander Lenz is President of Conergy South East Asia and Middle East. Conergy, with multiple projects underway in Thailand, is the only solar company worldwide that delivers synchronized solar systems, with customers in 40 countries (www.conergygroup.com).

 

 

For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

2011 www.interpv.net All rights reserved.

 
 

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