ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Hospital enters solar field
Yanhee was encouraged by the Thai government's policy of promoting renewable energy and private-sector participation and bid for a solar farm licence three years ago.
Yanhee Solar Power Co, 51 percent owned by the hospital, has been awarded eight solar farms with a combined capacity of 34.25 megawatts at a cost of 5 billion baht (US$ 162 million)..
The other 49 percent belongs to Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the country's largest private power producer.
''As a doctor, I see many patients suffering from lung disease resulting from air and water pollution,'' Supot Sumritvanitcha, the chief executive of Yanhee Hospital, says as he explains how he first became interested in renewable energy.
At that time, investment in solar energy was very costly, as countries such as Germany had developed the technology 25 years before.
''Three years ago, this kind of investment was unlikely to turn into a promising business,'' said Dr. Supot.
''But I think renewable energy is a more sustainable business nowadays. Thailand should participate in global efforts to tackle climate change.''
He said the hospital had allocated 700 rai of its land bank for solar farm projects in Ayutthaya, Nakhon Pathom and Suphan Buri provinces. Each farm needs at least 20 rai for development.
Dr. Supot said that despite the government's recent announcement it would cut the adder tariff from eight baht per kilowatt/hour (kWh) to 6.50 baht, the hospital has not ruled out investing in more solar projects.
With an adder tariff of eight baht per kWh, a solar farm could break even in 5-8 years, but at 6.50 baht it would be more like 10 years, he said.
Despite having diversified into renewable energy against all odds, Dr. Supot still has not abandoned his dream of opening a nursing home for the elderly in the next five years.
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