May 5, 2013

GEP wants partners for its 210-MW Myanmar solar plant

Green Earth Power (Thailand) or GEP is seeking partners for joint development of its 210-megawatt solar power plant in Myanmar, the third largest of its kind in the world and costing nearly 9 billion baht.

The company also plans to mobilise funds from the Stock Exchange of Thailand for a bigger Myanmar plant with a capacity of 300 MW and projects in other Asean countries including Thailand.

Managing director Supasit Skontanarak said GEP is in talks with potential strategic partners including "big names" in Thailand.

"We're looking for partners who are not only strong financially but also have expertise to strengthen our business," he said after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project with Myanmar's electric power minister late on Thursday.

Mr Supasit said the project's power purchase agreement (PPA) is expected to be signed within three months. Then construction will start immediately at the 750-acre site in Magway division's Minbu city. It is expected to take 18 months.

The plant will be developed in three phases with capacities of 50, 70 and 90 MW, respectively. Of the total cost, 70% will come from loans the rest from equity. GEP has held discussions with local and foreign lenders.

Myanmar now produces 2,500 MW of electricity, a fraction of the 30,000 MW produced in Thailand despite similar population sizes.

Given the lack of electricity supply and moves to attract industries, Myanmar is in need of additional power capacity.

GEP's project is the first solar plant in Myanmar. Late last month, the SET-listed Toyo-Thai Corporation Plc operated the first phase of its 120-MW gas-fired power plant in Myanmar.

Paul Bernard Yang, the president and chairman, said GEP plans to sign an MoU for the second project in Myanmar, perhaps in the North.

The company is considering options to raise funds from the Thai bourse including a backdoor listing.

"We are looking at inactive companies on the Thai equities market to be our shell companies. The discussions will start immediately following the MoU," said Mr Yang.

GEP is 80% owned by founders of the holding company including the Skontanarak family and Mr Yang.

It has approval for the PPA of a 40-MW solar project in Japan and also plans to develop wind power there.

In Thailand, GEP is looking at wind and solar projects, pending clearer government policy about the adder tariff for renewable energy, said Mr Yang.

Aong Thann Oo, Myanmar's deputy electric power minister, said the country is looking at solar to support its goal of 30,000 MW of power capacity by 2030.

Some 70% of electricity generation in Myanmar comes from hydropower, 20% from gas turbines and 10% from coal. However, hydropower capacity drops during the dry season.

Power consumption grows by 15% per year for household use, while Myanmar needs more generation to serve industrialisation.

Source: Bangkok Post

 
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