French giant explores renewable power opportunities in Asia
GDF Suez, the world’s largest independent power producer, is looking to expanding its investment in renewable energy in Asia which it sees as a source of “decarbonated” power.
“We intend to develop not only fossil fuel power but also renewable energy because it is clean energy,” said the company’s senior vice-president for international relations, Denis Simonneau, one of the executives of 16 French companies who made a three-day trip to Thailand recently to survey the business environment and opportunities.
“Thailand is a market in addition to China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan where GDF foresees strong potential energy business growth in Asia, both fossil and decarbonated sources of power,” said Mr Simonneau.
The sources of power the company terms “decarbonated” include solar energy, wind turbine, biomass, biogas and geothermal energy.
Currently the world’s leader in liquefied natural gas trading and production, GDF also intends to expand into the business in the region, including Thailand.
For Thailand, he said, the company was just waiting for a clear direction of its renewable energy development framework.
The Energy Ministry late last year set new conditions for renewable energy businesses by introducing a revised “feed-in” tariff scheme for all new renewable energy operators, except those in the solar power sector, which will continue to receive an adder tariff but at a lower rate of 6.50 baht per kilowatt per hour, down from eight baht previously.
The feed-in tariff will be calculated based on real investment costs and an appropriate rate of return on investment for the operator.
The adder tariff, a payment above normal power rates, was established to encourage renewable energy development. But for the feed-in tariff, every supplier to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) will need to propose and negotiate the rates with the state utility.
The ministry has defended the shift from the adder tariff to a feed-in tariff as necessary. Without it, power users would have faced the financial burden of huge subsidies for renewable power, estimated at 400 billion baht from 2010-25, it said.
The adder tariff rates varied according to the types of renewable energy. For example, the rates for solar were 10-12 baht per kilowatt per hour, while those for wind turbines were 5.50 to 7.30 baht.
When the government first introduced the adder tariff, its goal was to see renewable energy output reach 5,600 MW in 2025. However, operators, with a total output of 7,600 MW of renewable power, have now applied for the programme.
GDF now has businesses in Thailand mainly through the 69%-owned Glow Energy Plc, one of Thailand’s leading private power producers.