Thai energy firm Banpu buys U.S. gas-fired power plant

Thailand’s largest coal company Banpu announced last week that it had acquired a gas-fired power plant in the U.S. The purchase is part of Banpu’s plans to create a cleaner business model that focuses more on renewable energy sources.

Banpu invested $430 million to purchase a 100 percent stake in a large-scale gas-fired power plant in Texas from Temple Generation I. The companies signed the contract early August and expected to complete the transaction by the fourth quarter of this year.

The company has been accelerating its move away from the main business of coal, which has an enormous negative environmental impact. Banpu is determined to build a green business.

In July, company CEO Somruedee Chaimongkol said that Banpu would gradually cut the role of its coal business and shift resources toward natural gas and renewable energy. The company aspired to have low-carbon green enterprises contribute more than half to its overall income by 2025.

The facility in Texas is a combined-cycle gas-fired power plant with generating capacity of 768 megawatts that started commercial operation since July 2014. Including the Texas plant, the company’s total capacity is now 3,300 megawatts from 34 gas-fired, co-generation and renewable power plants in Thailand and overseas.

One reason for the expensive acquisition is to absorb advanced technologies from the U.S. company. Banpu has been facing pressure from shareholders to transition to green energy.

Kasikorn Research Center, a unit of Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank, said that this purchase would allow the company to gain greater generating capacity in green business immediately. It will reap the benefits faster than by building a new plant and waiting for years to start commercial operations.

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