Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding is expanding its presence Down Under with two new solar farms to cash in on the Australian government’s promotion of renewable energy.
With combined capacity of 53 megawatts, the solar farms will cost about Bt6.9 billion to develop. This investment will be carried out by its 80-per-cent-owned subsidiary Ratch-Australia.
“Australia is a market where the company sees more investment opportunities, particularly in the renewable segment – wind and solar power. This is because the Australian government aims to increase electricity capacity from wind and solar power sources to 20 per cent of total capacity by 2020,” said Pongdith Potchana, chief executive officer of Ratch.
The investment will increase the Australian subsidiary’s capacity to 870MW and Ratch’s renewable capacity to 209MW, or 3.3 per cent of its total 6,303MW capacity.
In a statement, the company said the solar farms would replace the Collinsville coal-fired station in Queensland state, which was shut down in June.
Pongdith said the 23MW Collinsville Solar PV (photovoltaic) plant had been granted a development licence ahead of selection of an engineering procurement contractor. It is scheduled to begin operating commercially in 2015.
The 30MW Collinsville Solar Thermal project has received 2.5 million Australian dollars (Bt75 million) in financial support from the Australian government to conduct a feasibility study, and the company expects additional subsidy from the government to make it a commercially viable prototype of solar thermal technology in that country. Development of the project will start in 2015, for commercial operation in 2017.
The Thai power producer entered Australia in 2011 through the acquisition of 80-per-cent equity of the Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund, which was later renamed Ratch-Australia. The subsidiary now owns seven power plants consisting of three gas-fired plants with 569MW combined capacity, a 180MW coal-fired plant, and three wind farms of total 68MW capacity.