April 25, 2013: REC announces its first venture in Thailand. Powered by close to 41,000 REC Peak Energy Series solar panels, the brand-new 9.5MW Chiang Rai power plant went into operation in March.
7,200 Thai households now benefit from clean, green solar electricity from Chiang Rai – the largest solar electricity generator in Northern Thailand, and the country's first-ever installation to use REC solar panels. Covering 24 hectares of rugged, mountainous land in the District of Mae Chan, the plant is owned and operated by Chiang Rai Solar Company Ltd, a joint venture between Sonnedix and CK Power.
Having already supplied solar panels for Sonnedix installations in Europe, REC was the clear front-runner to provide the solar panels for this landmark project. "REC has a proven track record and a wealth of experience in this still-young industry," said Franck Constant, Chairman at Sonnedix. "REC solar panels were among the most reliable options for weather and climate conditions in Thailand and to comply with government regulations."
Due to the gradient of the terrain, REC's first installation in Thailand was a challenging one. The solar panels had to be ground-mounted on a special concrete structure, and also be optimized to maintain high output in the fluctuating sunlight conditions sometimes experienced in Thailand. REC solar panels proved more than able to measure up to these challenges. The solar power plant is connected by a high voltage overhead line which feeds 15,000MWh per year into Thailand's power grid. This REC-powered installation reduces the country's CO2 footprint by almost 9,000 metric tonnes per year.
New local presence for REC
Committed to capturing opportunities in Thailand's fast-growing solar market, REC has just opened its own office in Bangkok. Commenting on the new local presence, Jose Luis Martin, Project Development Manager Thailand, REC says, "The best way to serve a market is simply to be there. A local presence in the country testifies that we're taking a long-term view to our business activities in Southeast Asia. We're delighted to have provided the solar panels to Sonnedix for the Chiang Rai installation. The new plant is the first milestone of many."
Thailand does indeed offer exciting opportunities. As things stand, Thailand meets around half its primary energy needs with imports, so the country is understandably keen to generate more energy itself. The aim is to have a quarter of energy needs met by renewable sources by 2021. Thailand benefits from strong year-round sunlight, making solar power a viable way forward. "Regulations are highly favorable at the moment. Power Purchase Agreements guarantee premiums on feed-in tariffs to incentivize new solar installations," says Jose Luis Martín. "Thailand is an exciting market and a magnet for solar investment. We're committed to ensuring REC takes an active role."