Powered by close to 41,000 REC Peak Energy Series solar panels, the 9.5MW Chiang Rai power plant went into operation in March - 7200 Thai households now benefit from clean, green solar electricity from the plant, which is the largest solar electricity generator in Northern Thailand. 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, an independent solar power producer, and CK Power, an affiliate of CH Karchang, Thailand’s second-largest construction company.
REC has already supplied solar panels for Sonnedix installations in Europe. Franck Constant, Chairman at Sonnedix said 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 firm said. The solar panels had to be ground-mounted on a special concrete structure, and also be optimised to maintain high output in the fluctuating sunlight conditions sometimes experienced in Thailand. The solar power plant is connected by a high voltage overhead line which feeds 15,000 MWh of electricity a year into Thailand’s power grid.
Meantime, 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.”
Currently, Thailand meets around half its primary energy needs with imports, so the country is understandably keen to generate more energy itself, says REC. 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.”