Lopburi solar power plant, one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic PV projects, on Thursday started commercial operation with capacity of 73 megawatts in the central province of Lopburi, about 150km north of Bangkok.

It will help the country reduce carbon dioxide CO2 emissions by over 1.3 million tonnes throughout the 25-year project period and cut fuel imports by over 35,000 tonnes per year, said Sahust Pratuknukul, board of directors chairman of the Natural Energy Development NED, who is also president of the Electricity Generating Public Company Limited EGCO.

Lopburi solar power plant.
The Asian Development Bank granted a long-term loan of US$70 million some Bt2 billion for construction of the Lopburi solar power plant.

NED Managing Director Woramol Khamkanist said that the Lopburi Solar project began in July 2010 taking 18 months from beginning construction to initiation of commercial operations today.

Second phase development to expand capacity to 84 megawatts will be completed in June, while an on-site learning centre is being built on 760 square metres as a knowledge transfer site on natural energy and sustainable energy use.

The museum will be opened for free public use in mid-2012.

NED is an equal joint venture in which CLP Thailand Renewables Ltd., Diamond Generating Asia Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation and EGCO, each hold one-third ownership.The Asian Development Bank granted a long-term loan of US$70 million some Bt2 billion for construction of the Lopburi solar power plant.

It is the first project for which ADB has given support under its plan to promote alternative energy consumption around the region in a bid to help reduce global warming.

Source: MCOT News Lopburi solar power plant begins commercial operation.

Many countries in Asia have a natural solar energy advantage

Given they are both sunny and have large areas of land unsuitable for other uses. However, large-scale solar power generation has been hampered by a lack of suitable project financing mechanisms, institutional and policy constraints, and knowledge gaps

Around 900 million people in developing Asia have no access to electricity, and many others in remote areas pay very high prices for power that is typically generated by fossil fuels.

“Thailand is committed to the low-carbon pathway,” says Dr. Twarath Sutabutr, Deputy Director-General, Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, in Thailand’s Ministry of Energy.

With regards to investment opportunities in Thailand, the country’s ministry of Energy says alternative energy resources provide a practical link between the country’s agricultural competitive advantages and its domestic energy needs. Dr. Sutabutr explains:

“Thailand is committed to the Low-Carbon pathway, as stated in the new National Economic and Social Development Plan (11th plan), due to the fact that Thailand is a net-importer of fossil fuels. The only way to be independent from the importation is to go along the “Green and Clean Energy” corridor, including Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency and maybe Nuclear Energy.”

At present, less than 0.25% of Asia’s overall electricity production comes from solar power.

Pointing to the “significant potential” for solar energy, Mr. Zhao said the aim is to increase that contribution to 3% to 5% in the near future. The ultimate goal of the Asia Solar Energy Initiative is to provide solar energy at a cost equal to, or lower than, electricity from the grid.

“The initiative is consolidating our efforts to take advantage of the wider adoption of solar technologies resulting from rapid technological advances, larger scales of production, and lower production costs,”

said Mr. Zhao.

Promoting clean, renewable energy is one of ADB’s highest priorities. In 2010 it invested $1.8 billion in clean energy, exceeding its $1 billion target for a third year in a row. From 2013, the target will rise to $2 billion a year.

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