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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        27  May 2011

Bangchak invests in solar

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Bangchak Petroleum Plc plans to spend about 50 billion baht (US$1.64 billion) to increase its solar power capacity by four times to 500 megawatts.

President Anusorn Sangnimnuan said clean solar power would play a major role in electricity generation and the cost of solar cells should decline on eager demand from other countries. He didn't reveal when the majority state-owned oil refiner and retailer could achieve the plan, as expansion will rest squarely on the new government's programmes.

Bangchak has three licences for a combined 118 MW for its solar farm. The first 38-MW licence for Bang Pa-in, Ayutthaya, and should be operational in October. A second 32-MW installation and third one of 48 MW will be built by the middle of this year and next year, respectively.

Although the Energy Ministry closed licensing to solar power investors after a combined 500 MW in 2009, Dr. Anusorn believes the government is likely to call a new round of bids soon, given growing pressure from higher oil prices, lower production cost for solar cells, and the government's recent decision to delay building a nuclear power plant. Oil prices may rise to US$120 per barrel this year, he said.

Bangchak and other energy players want to encourage the new government to increase solar power production to 2,500 MW from its existing 500 MW.

"Thailand has more potential in solar power than wind, so we need to focus on this technology," said Dr Anusorn.

The first solar project worth 5 billion baht is 70 percent complete. The second and third cost a combined 10 billion and will seek partnerships and contractors.

Dr Anusorn said the company estimated its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from solar power of 9 billion baht if it expands to 500 MW.

EBITDA from the refinery and oil retailing each year totals about 6 billion baht, subject to fluctuating global oil prices. The company is keen to diversify its business, he said.

BCP increased its forecast for Dubai crude this year to $120 per barrel from $80 earlier this year.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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