Lopburi solar power plant begins commercial operation


BANGKOK, Dec 22 – 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).

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.