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Thailand Opens The First of Fifteen Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plants

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Duckwitz, Germany-based Solarlite partnered with Thai Solar Energy company to manufacture and build the five-megawatt Concentrating Solar Power Plant.

“The decision to choose concentrated solar thermal power is based on the higher efficiency, the bankability of the technology, the level of environmental friendliness and, last not least, the local job creation potential,” notes Moritz von Plate, Duckwitz-based CFO at Solarlite. It is the first of about fifteen concentrated solar power plants using Solarite’s technology.

The plants are made possible because of the Thailand’s feed-in tariffs for very small power producers (VSPP). For plants that generate 10 MW and under, the law assures producers market price plus 8 bahts/kWh for the next 10 year. After a decade, the electricity is sold at market prices, which is now about at 3.6 bahts/kWh.

Thai Solar Energy Co., Ltd., opened the first of some 15 planned concentrated solar power plants in Thailand at the Huaykrachao, Kanjanaburi site on November 29, 2011. Thai Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit pushes start button at first solar thermal power plant in Thailand built with Solarlite’s unique technology.

On November 29, 2011, Southeast Asia’s the first concentrating solar thermal power parabolic trough plant built with Solarlite’s unique technology in Southeast Asia was opened in Huaykrachao, which is located in the Thai province of Kanchanaburi.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Yongyuth Wichaidit, filled in for hospitalized Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to give a speech at the opening of the 5 MW plant by Thai Solar Energy Co., Ltd., its investor and future operator.

Thai Solar Energy Co., Ltd., opened the first of some 15 planned concentrated solar power plants in Thailand at the Huaykrachao, Kanjanaburi site on November 29, 2011, built with Solarlite’s globally unique technology. Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Yongyuth Wichaidit, spoke at the press conference at the Maleenont Tower in Bangkok.

The presence of Yongyut Wichaidit and Minister of Energy, Pichai Naripthapan, shows the significance of this project for Thailand’s energy policy. Dr. Cathleen Maleenont, Chief Operating Officer of the Thai Solar Energy Co., Ltd. (TSE), the investor and operator of the 5 MW concentrating solar thermal power plant, stressed its signalling effect on the firm’s positioning during the press conference. TSE not only intends to become a leading supplier of solar power in Thailand, but also a major energy producer outside Thailand in the long term.

The TSE 1 concentrating solar power plant is the first in the world to be based on direct steam generation, which is why it is so environmentally-friendly and efficient. With an output of 5 MWe, it is the first of 15 facilities with a combined total output of 135 MW that are slated for construction under Thailand’s regulations for very small power producers (VSPP). The regulations guarantee additional feed-in tariffs for projects with up to 10 MW in their first 10 years of operation.

In fact, TSE is relying on its long-term partnership with Solarlite, a the German supplier of the solar technology company. Solarlite is the only company in the world that includes uses direct steam technology in the plant designs it offers in the commercial market. The technology is particularly environmentally-friendly because it uses water instead of oil as a heat transfer fluid.

In addition to the speech by the Deputy Prime Minister, another highlight of the opening ceremony was a live broadcast from the plant grounds by Thai television station TV Channel 3.

Unlike its competitors, Solarlite evaporates water instead of thermal oil which makes it more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, its total investment costs compared to traditional parabolic trough technology are much less, according to the company. Also, the thermal oil is flammable and most often toxic.

The Solarlite Direct Steam Generation (DSG) combines two concepts, recirculation and injection cooling, to generate superheated steam. This allows producers to control the process better even during rapidly changing conditions. It is the first parabolic trough commercial plant based on direct steam generation.

Thai Solar Energy Co., Ltd. (TSE) is a leading renewable energy company whose core business is solar power production. TSE is a “very small power producer” of electricity for the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA). The firm has already signed electricity supply contracts for 45 MW.

Solarlite GmbH develops and builds decentralized concentrated solar-thermal parabolic trough plants (CSP – Concentrated Solar Power) for combined heat and power generation (steam, thermal energy and power). These power plants have an electrical output in the range of 500 kWe up to more than 30 MWe.

Solarlite is globally the only supplier of parabolic trough plants that can be used in different applications such as electricity production or for the stand-alone electricity consumption of small and medium-sized industrial facilities. Compared to traditional parabolic trough collectors that use thermal oil and an additional heat exchanger, the direct steam generation implemented by Solarlite is more efficient, less expensive and more environmentally friendly. Solarlite was founded in 2007 by Joachim Krüger.

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