BANGKOK -- On the back of rising interest in renewable energy in Thailand, coal producer Banpu has moved further into the downstream power-generation business, setting up a subsidiary to help companies and organizations install rooftop solar panel systems.
Banpu Infinergy, the new business unit, will offer services such as consulting and system design, installation and maintenance. It hopes to sell these services to factories, hotels, universities and hospitals in Thailand.
The company has rolled out three sales packages offering different installation methods and contract periods. Susco, which runs a chain of 50 gas stations nationwide, is among its early clients.
By the end of the year, Banpu Infinergy hopes to receive contracts with a total annual generating capacity of 20 megawatts. The business is expected to account for 5-10% of Banpu's overall sales by 2022, with output reaching 300MW per year, the company said.
"It was natural for us to enter into the individual power supply business," Somruedee Chaimongkol, Banpu's chief executive, told reporters in Bangkok on Monday.
Banpu began life as a coal producer, but as coal consumption has fallen it has moved into power generation over the past three decades. It operates coal-fired and hydroelectric power plants in Thailand and other Asian countries such as Laos and China. It has solar projects up and running in Japan and China. Last year, Banpu Power, the company's power generation subsidiary, was listed on the Thai stock exchange.
"We believe that the renewable trend in Thailand will get stronger, like [it has in] countries such as Japan, China and the U.S.," Somruedee said. Since Thailand began approving licenses for solar farms in the private sector in 2008, consumption of solar power has increased rapidly. Renewables now account for nearly 14% of the country's energy consumption. The Ministry of Energy hopes to raise this to 30% by 2036.
The faster-than-expected rise of solar power in Thailand has forced the ministry to revise its 15-year national power development plan through 2030, due to fears of a power supply glut.