Mr. Somprasong Panjalak, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Prime Road Power Public Company Limited (PRIME:SET), Thailand’s leading renewable energy developer and Mr. Piroon Shinawatra, Chief Financial Officer of PRIME share their unique perspectives in the joint executive interview on the company’s regional, innovative approach to renewable energy, ongoing initiatives, differentiating itself from other companies in the market, the overarching business strategy and the next five years that drives the success.
Can you tell us about the history of PRIME?
PRIME began a decade ago when the Government of Thailand initiated the renewable energy policies to diversify the country’s energy sources and to drive the development of a new industry. We participated in the Very Small Power Producer (VSPP) quotas for Solar Power and since then continued to participate in each auction as our strategy is to be a long-term renewable energy power producer and developer within the region. After the initial projects in Thailand we expanded into Japan, collaborating with Banpu Power Plc (Aizu Solar) and then expanded into Taiwan and Cambodia. Today we have a total capacity of 303.94 MW, with 216.6 MW operating solar power plants and 42.2 MW which are expected to COD in 2023 throughout the region, and have a diversified business within the renewable space including Solar Power Plants, Private-PPA, EPC and Energy & Environment Tech Solutions.
Why the regional expansion?
Thailand has a population of 70 million, and our goal is to be a global power producer and developer. We expanded to countries with a higher population and greater demand for electricity, bringing them green energy. PRIME, along with the entire renewable energy industry in Thailand, benefited tremendously from the Government of Thailand’s initiative to diversify into renewable energy. It provided the country a springboard to be the leaders within the region for renewables as we could demonstrate a positive track record of investing, developing, and operating Solar Power Plants. Further, we look at risk-adjusted returns when evaluating projects. While the absolute returns may be lower in countries like Japan and Taiwan compared to South East Asia, the risk is also lower, therefore, developed countries with lower risk offer higher risk-adjusted returns. For PRIME, of the 303.94 MW, 49% is outside of Thailand with 25% in Cambodia, 18% in Taiwan and 8% in Japan.
Can you tell us about your innovative approach to renewable energy?
Necessity is a matter of innovation. For example, in Taiwan we recently developed a Solar Power Plant collaboration with a Shrimp farm where we developed the entire infrastructure. This collaboration has proven to be beneficial to the local community by providing additional income. The DNA of PRIME is to be adaptive and entrepreneurial and we evolve ourselves and adapt to situations. Our subsidiary company called PrimeX looks at technological innovations, how to create and manage the power plant systems, and oversee project management. We need to work efficiently and make use of technology enhancements to facilitate our growing workforce and pipeline of projects. In Taiwan we have over 100 small projects of 20 kWs, with 200-300 kW at each site, and utilise an internal monitoring system that oversees maintenance, daily yield, and performance of each facility.
What exciting initiatives are PRIME working on?
In June 2022, we announced a Joint Venture with the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT). This JV is to tackle Thailand’s Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target and provide opportunities for the JV to tap into 60 industrial estates with more than 4,000 factories across Thailand. With PrimeX we have a monitoring system to oversee the rooftop solar power performance and to understand the energy usage and efficiency of each machinery unit within the factory. This can be expanded to monitor the total energy consumption to include the multiple energy sources and monitor the energy pathways. By utilising machine learning with this data, we aim to become an energy infrastructure platform for manufacturers to efficiently manage their energy usage.
Can you explain your business strategy for each business unit?
I feel that every one of our business units should be efficient by themselves, and we want each one to be able to grow. For instance, PrimeX, we hope it will grow and list by itself in the future, they will need to grow with or without us. We focus on business improvement or using solar to be adaptable to other businesses and cross different sectors.
How does PRIME differentiate itself from other renewable energy companies in the market?
As a relatively new player in the market, we focus on projects as a fundamental aspect of our growth. Throughout the past decade we have developed institutional knowledge on the development requirements of Solar plants both on a small scale and a larger scale which is paramount to ensuring stable growth and financial discipline. We recognise that our financials may look similar to those of other companies at the moment, but we are improving our communication with stakeholders to explain our principles, values, and vision.
What are PRIME’s goals for the next five years?
Our strategy is for PRIME to be a recognised global renewable power producer and developer. We have a substantial pipeline having secured 1,800 MW PPA’s in Asia with plans to expand into Indonesia and Korea. This takes us to 2027 from which we will expand globally and allows us to be versatile in our energy portfolio, with solar as the core and to potentially expand into other sources such as waste-to-energy, geothermal, wind energy, and mini-hydro.