THAI SOLAR ENERGY PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED
Name: Cathleen Maleenont, Ed.D.
Position: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Subject: Sun is shining on TSE
Please explain the history and business model of TSE
The company was formed eight years ago with the aim to be a long-term participant in the renewable energy industry in Thailand and the region. In the past seven years, we have built 85 MW’s of solar farms in Western Thailand that are already selling to the grid. Following on from this 85 MW we expanded into solar rooftops with the Mall Group and Home Pro Plc was awarded 14 rooftops with a 1 MW size for each thus 14 MW’s. During this period we decided to list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand In October 2014 with 99 MW’s to diversify our funding sources and raise capital for future projects which arrived in Japan where we have completed four solar farms of 8 MW’s and another 50 MW’s of projects in the process of construction. More recently we won an additional 1 MW with the solar farm project for government agencies and agricultural cooperatives and acquired three biomass plants with 18 MW’s that utilize woodchip as a raw material.
Why did TSE decided to expand into other types of renewable energy and what other ventures are you looking at?
We investigated the other renewables and for Thailand we see that biomass has very attractive metrics for multiple reasons such as the ability to be operational for 24 hours a day and the abundance of raw material in Thailand such as bark. With the other renewables such as hydro, waste to energy or wind, despite there being some positives there were inherent challenges that led to limited opportunities. Internally we have also setup a division to seek commercial buildings and factories for solar panel installation. This will help reduce electricity expense that arise from a discount to the current electricity rate. We are hopeful of continuing to expand this business line and aim to secure 50-100 MW by next year.
Why has Japan become a popular destination for TSE and other renewable companies?
It was a matter of timing, Japan unfortunately had a tragic natural disaster when the Tsunami hit in 2011. Because of that event the Japanese Government proceeded on a new power development plan requiring that 2 GW of the country’s power will be derived from renewable energy within the next four to five years. This is a good opportunity and the fastest source of renewable power that can be built is solar which is why it has become an attractive for several players from Thailand, Korea and China to invest into Japan. Financially the returns of our initial projects there are similar to what we can achieve in Thailand because the FIT fee for the first phase was 40, 36 or 32 Yen which compensated for the higher development costs, since then the FIT fee has decreased to 24 Yen which presents new challenges for future projects but for TSE our projects in Japan range between 32, 36 and 40 Yen.
How does the rate of change in solar and renewable technology impact TSE?
Technology is changing rapidly and this is positive development for the world, the industry and TSE. Internally we are discussing continuously about these changes and we can expect multiple new developments. Some examples are that in the future solar panels will be smaller in size but more efficient, or in battery technology that will allow solar to be a 24/7 producer of power in the future. In the other renewable industries there are also fast advancements in technology.
How do you view the industry developing in Thailand and the region?
The industry has moved in a manner similar to the developed countries in Europe such as Germany or Italy where the initial support for the industry came from the government and the business shifts to a B2B or B2C model. We can see that occurring here in Thailand and that renewable energy becomes more of a commodity. Within the region, we think that Thailand is one of the pioneers and that we can provide the knowledge transfer to AEC countries. We have been looking at expanding into countries in ASEAN such as the Philippines as it is an interesting market.
What are the biggest risks facing your business?
In Thailand there has been strong tailwinds from the government sector in the past that helped to support the growth which have now diminished due to the reduction of production cost and thus we have to focus on how we can ensure continuous growth as a publicly listed company. When we first expanded outside of Thailand or into biomass we must fully understand the risks and all parameters involved whether it be foreign exchange, new technology, a country’s stability, we have to be hands on to ensure that these new endeavors succeed.
Where do you see TSE in five years from now?
We want to be amongst the top three renewable companies within the region continuing our international standards of business. The projects that we have completed and are completing are of international standard that will be operational for the next 25 to 30 years. We believe in a culture of excellence and have a strong team from the board to the management to the operations level that take into account our stakeholders best interests. With what TSE has built we can see the road ahead and believe that we can achieve it.
Source (Thai): SETTRADE