REC opens Thailand office

REC has opened an office in Bangkok, underscoring the Norwegian PV group’s hope that it can boost its flagging revenues on the back of the booming Asian solar market.

The opening was announced a month after the first PV plant in Thailand using REC modules was opened. 

The 9.5MW Chiang Rai project, the largest in northern Thailand, is owned jointly by Thai construction giant CH Karchang and the independent solar-power producer Sonnedix, a repeat REC customer. 

“The best way to serve a market is simply to be there,” says Jose Luis Martin, REC’s project development manager in Thailand.

“A local presence in [Thailand] testifies that we’re taking a long-term view to our business activities in Southeast Asia.” Martin calls Thailand an “exciting market and a magnet for solar investment”, adding that the country’s regulations are “highly favourable at the moment” for PV.

Thailand, a huge energy importer and key solar growth market, aims to meet a quarter of its energy needs via renewables by 2021.

Yesterday REC revealed that its first-quarter revenues fell to NKr1.28bn ($220m), down from NKr2.14bn during the same period a year ago.

Chief executive Ole Enger specifically flagged up Asia as one likely avenue for sales growth, with REC having recently shipped more than 15MW to India. 

Oslo-based REC manufactures its wafers, cells and modules in Singapore, and its polysilicon in the US, having shuttered its remaining wafers plants in Norway last year. 

Asia – excluding China and India – is expected to soak up 3GW of PV a year by 2017, representing a critical piece of the recovery puzzle for the global solar industry.

Thailand is tipped to be the largest of those emerging markets. It is already the most advanced market in southeast Asia – having, for example, seen a 44MW plant brought on line outside Bangkok last year, with modules supplied by China’s Suntech.