Thai solar power firm expanding in Viet Nam

Superblock, Thailand’s largest solar energy company, is powering the winds of change in Viet Nam with a planned $1.76 billion investment to build three near-shore wind farms that will generate a total of 700 megawatts of power, as the company said it is also planning to invest in renewable energy plants across Southeast Asia.

“Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have similar problems [with air pollution] and the Vietnamese want clean and cheap energy. This is driving renewable energy growth,” said Jormsup Lochaya, chairman of Superblock, which is a listed company.

Superblock has begun construction on three wind farms in three provinces: Bac Lieu province with 142 megawatts (MW), Soc Trang province with 98 MW, and Ca Mau province with 100 MW. All three are in southern Viet Nam. All three should be up and running by 2020. Jormsup said the company is considering investing in a fourth 50 MW wind farm in Viet Nam and will make a decision by the second quarter of 2018.

That represents just the first phase of Superblock’s investment plan. In the second phase, the company will construct additional wind farms in those same provinces that will generate a total of 360 MW annually.

Thailand is the leader in renewable power generation in Southeast Asia, producing 3,000 MW a year, but power consumption in Viet Nam is growing by 10 percent a year, and the government has a goal of generating 6,000 MW from wind power by 2030. At the moment, the country’s wind farms are generating just 140 MW.

Viet Nam is the first beachhead in Superblock’s strategy of expanding throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The company said it intends to build wind and solar power plants in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The company’s goal is to achieve 25 percent revenue growth per year, with as much as 30 percent coming from projects in other countries.

“We want to be a regional player,” Jormsup said. Superblock is examining possible acquisitions of other power companies, and is examining possible investments in projects in China, Japan and Australia.

While solar firm Superblock is banking on wind power, Thailand’s Wind Energy Holdings (WEH) said it plans to invest in solar power production, as well as hydropower and biomass power.

The company views other sources of renewable energy as supplementary, or as a backup, to its wind power generation.

“The problem with wind in this region is it tends to be night-time wind, so we do need something to balance that mix,” said Chief Executive Officer Emma Collins.

WEH will have an additional five wind power farms come online this year, each producing 90MW. That will bring the company’s capacity to 720MW in Thailand. The company’s goal is to be producing 3,000 MW by 2025.