73-MW large-scale Thai solar plant to use Sharp thin-film modules

Sharp Corporation will provide thin-film solar cell modules for a 73-megawatt photovoltaic plant in Central Thailand that is set to be one of the largest solar power generation plants in the world.

Sharp signed the supply deal with Natural Energy Development Company, a Thai independent power producer jointly owned by Mitsubishi Corporation (TYO:8058[8058-N:TK], LSE:MBC), CLP Holdings (HKG:0002) and Electricity Generating Public Limited, for the $250 million Changwat Lop Buri plant, which will be located in Lop Buri Province.

The company will produce part of the solar modules in its solar cell manufacturing facility at Green Front Sakai in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. The manufacturing plant began operations in March 2010.

Sharp, along with Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited and Ital Thai Engineering Company Limited, will start construction of the thin-film solar plant this month.

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Natural Energy will sell all of the net 55 MW of electricity produced to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the country’s leading independent power producer, for 25 years once the plant goes online by the end of 2011.

In May, Natural Energy bagged a $70 million loan from the Asian Development Bank and closed financial agreements with several Thai commercial banks. However, no further details were disclosed.

Thin-film solar cells are commonly used on smaller solar projects, but are reportedly more suitable for projects in countries with high-temperature climate, such as in Thailand, compared with its crystalline solar cell counterparts.

“Solar energy is an abundant resource throughout Thailand and therefore has huge potential to fill the rising demand from Thai businesses, communities and households,” said Joe Yamagata, deputy director general of A.D.B.’s private sector operations department.

Thailand, the first Southeast Asian country to establish an official renewable energy plan, expects the project to help reach its target of generating 20 percent of its national electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Mitsubishi will oversee the Thai project through its wholly-owned subsidiary Diamond Generating Asia, which was established in April 2009 to develop renewable energy projects in Southeast Asia where electricity demand is expected to rise in the coming years.



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