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Economy

Thailand's SPCG to build grids in Myanmar

BANGKOK -- SPCG Public, Thailand's largest solar power company, will begin operating small-scale grids in Myanmar at the end of 2015 in a bid to ease electricity shortages in the country.

SPCG has 36 solar farms in Thailand, including one in Nakhon Ratchasima or Korat as seen in this undated file photo.

     Mini grid capable of generating up to 1,000kW will supply electricity to plants and homes in Yangon, Mandalay and other cities in Myanmar, according to SPCG CEO Wandee Khunchornyakong.

     Demand for electricity is set to grow in Myanmar as the country pushes forward with industrialization, according to Wandee.

     Estimating that construction of the grids will cost some $2 million each, SPCG will not only set aside its own construction funds but will also call on the World Bank Group and Japan's Kyocera, a shareholder in the Thai company, to participate in the project.

     SPCG has 36 solar farms in Thailand with a combined power generation capacity of 260,000kW. As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which plans to launch the ASEAN Economic Community later this year, is promoting the use of renewable energy, SPCG hopes to lead solar power generation in the region.

     The company hopes to expand its business in ASEAN members by using its experience and know-how accumulated in Thailand, said Wandee, expressing her strong desire to capitalize on the economic unification of the region.

     In the Philippines, SPCG is carrying out feasibility studies as it plans to build a $200 million megasolar plant capable of generating 100,000kW. The company will make a decision about the plant by the end of this year.

     SPCG has sharply boosted revenue by increasing the number of its solar farms since starting operations in April 2010. In the year ended December 2014, the company logged a group net profit of 1.67 billion baht ($51.3 million) on sales of 4.41 billion baht. It received about 1.5% of its capital from Kyocera, which also provides solar panels to the company.

     Founder and CEO of SPCG, Wandee, is a leading female executive in Thailand. She became well-known after being honored for her efforts to promote solar power at the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 20 in the Peruvian capital of Lima in December last year.

     However, things were not always easy for the company. Launching the CEO's business was difficult, as major Thai banks were unwilling to grant her a loan. But after selling part of her assets, she eventually secured the money needed following 10 visits to different lenders.

     The business has created 2,000 jobs in Thailand's solar power industry, Wandee said proudly.

     With the Thai government promoting solar energy, Wandee thinks Thailand can become the center of solar power generation in ASEAN.

     As photovoltaic panels need to last for long periods of time, SPCG needed a technologically competitive and financially strong supplier. It eventually turned to Kyocera, accepting a contribution of capital from the company.

     Attention is growing over whether Wandee, the leader of solar power generation in Thailand, can succeed outside her country.

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