On November 29th, 2011 Thai Solar Energy Company Ltd. (Bangkok, Thailand) celebrated the opening of a 5 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province.

The solar energy plant is the first operational concentrated solar power plant in Southeast Asia, and the company states that it is the first in the world to use direct steam generation, in which water replaces oil as a thermal transfer fluid in a parabolic trough plant design.

"Readily available electricity is a crucial public utility for the economy to grow and the demand is increasing," stated Thai Solar CEO Dr. Cathleen Maleenont. "Over 70% of electricity generated in Thailand, which is a high ratio, is generated from natural gas."

"If this continues, natural gas will be available for just over 20 more years. Using renewable energy is therefore essential because it is the bright new hope for the future."

Plans to expand solar thermal plant to 9 MW, add thermal storage

Thai Solar Energy invested USD 29 million in the plant, which is located on a 24 hectare parcel of land in Huaykrachao District, Kanchanaburi Province.

The company plans to expand the plant to 9 MW, which it says will reduce investment costs by 20-30%, and has secured a power purchase agreement for that capacity. Thai Solar Energy also plans to introduce a heat-storage system in the next phase of the plant.

Thai Solar Energy states that it is currently building three more concentrating solar power projects in Thailand, each with a capacity of 9 MW. In the next three to five years, the company plans to build 135 MW of concentrated solar power, and notes that it has already secured ten power purchase agreements for additional capacity.