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Banpu takes stake in Singapore solar energy provider Sunseap

Thai coal miner's $55.7mn deal nets renewable energy expertise

A Sunseap Leasing maintenance worker inspects the company's photovoltaic solar modules on the roof of an apartment building in Singapore.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thai coal miner Banpu has invested $55.7 million in Singapore-based solar energy provider Sunseap Group as it seeks to further venture into renewable energy.

Banpu Infinergy, a recently-established subsidiary of Banpu that offers solar system consultation and installation services, will be taking a 25.7% stake in its Singaporean peer.

Incorporated in 2011, Sunseap is the largest provider of renewable energy solutions in Singapore and boasts a wide client base, ranging from state agencies to local arms of multinational companies such as Apple and Japan's Panasonic.

Secured projects total more than 180 megawatts of power generation capacity, including an estimated 93MW already in operation.

Somruedee Chaimongkol, chief executive of Banpu, center, poses for a photo with executives of Banpu Infinergy and Sunseap Group. (Photo provided by company)

In early August, the privately-held company received investment from a corporate venture arm of Royal Dutch Shell to collaborate on solar power projects in Southeast Asia.

Banpu Infinergy hopes to draw on Sunseap's expertise as it hopes to build its own solar power solution business in Thailand and other markets.

"This is an important milestone as we expand into a country known for its modern business methods and high growth potential in the green energy industry," said Somruedee Chaimongkol, chief executive of Banpu who doubles as director of Banpu Infinergy, in a statement. "The partnership is also a firm step towards Banpu Infinergy's expansion into the global market."

Banpu Infinergy is aiming to reach 300MW in operating capacity in the coming five years, up from the 20MW output expected by the end of this year. The stake in Sunseap will add an additional 47MW of operating capacity.

Solar power production in Thailand has been on the rise since the government began approving licenses for solar farms in the private sector in 2008. Many companies are setting up their own solar panels at their plants and outlets such as Susco, a major gas station operator, which installed solar panels at its 50 gas stations nationwide with Banpu Infinergy.

Renewables now account for nearly 14% of the country's energy consumption. The Ministry of Energy hopes to raise this to 30% by 2036, reducing its dependence on gas- and coal-fired power plants as natural gas resources head for depletion and environmental concerns over coal energy are mounting among the public.

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