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Thailand is on the verge of a solar energy transformation as private companies have committed to investing at least USD 2 billion over the next five years in solar power production. The woman leading the country down a cleaner path is Wandee Khunchornyakong, who runs Solar Power Company Group, the largest solar power generation company in Thailand.

Solar Power Company Group has unlocked private financing to construct a total of 36 solar photovoltaic farms in sunny, northeast Thailand, accounting for 250 MW of installed capacity by the end of 2014. This translates into potential savings of 200,000 tonnes of CO2-equivilent per year compared to Thailand’s fossil-fuel driven electricity generation.


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Key facts:

  • To date, Solar Power Company Group’s solar investments have attracted upwards of USD 800 million worth of investment.
  • By providing clean energy jobs for women, Solar Power Company Group is directly empowering the next generation of Southeast Asian businesswomen and entrepreneurs who will continue to catalyze renewable energy projects in the developing world.
  • In 2013, Ms. Khunchornyakong was named Women Entrepreneur of the Year by the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards.

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The problem

In Thailand, increased energy and electricity consumption is helping lift its population out of poverty but has also caused greenhouse gas emissions to grow by almost 70% from 2000 to 2010. Thailand’s power sector is dominated by fossil fuels, with coal and natural gas making up over 90% of the country’s generation mix.

The solution

Solar Power Company Group, led by Ms. Khunchornyakong, has unlocked private financing to construct a total of 36 solar photovoltaic farms accounting for 250 MW of installed capacity by the end of 2014.

By the end of 2013, Thailand’s installed solar capacity had increased 10-fold compared with just two years earlier, to nearly 500 MW. Solar Power Company Group solar farms, including Korat 2 and Loei 1 in northeastern Thailand, accounted for over 25% of this total. The most recent Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century report states that solar photovoltaic market growth in Southeast Asia has been “dominated” by Thailand.


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Helping the planet

The solar farms installed by Solar Power Company Group provide potential savings of 200,000 tonnes of CO2-equivilent per year.

The Korat 2 and Loei 1 solar farms will provide clean, renewable energy for the local population for decades to come. The two solar farms have replaced some of the electricity produced from fossil fuel generation, already improving local air quality and helping mitigate climate change.

The enterprise is helping put Thailand on a low-carbon growth path and reduce the country’s reliance on imported energy, while driving economic growth in some of the most impoverished regions of the country.

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Helping people

Ms. Khunchornyakong saw huge untapped potential for solar energy in Thailand and secured early-stage investments from the International Finance Corporation and the Clean Technology Fund to realize this potential. Thanks to these initial investments, she was able to grow the company from its humble beginnings into a billion-dollar industry.

As a result of the huge success of Solar Power Company Group, Ms. Khunchornyakong has received recognition of her leadership, which has enabled her to take an active role in promoting women entrepreneurs both in Thailand and abroad. By providing clean energy jobs for women, Dr. Khunchornyakong is directly empowering the next generation of Southeast Asian businesswomen and women entrepreneurs that will continue catalyzing transformational renewable energy projects in the developing world.

The enterprise is helping put Thailand on a low-carbon growth path and reduce the country’s reliance on imported energy, while driving economic growth in some of the most impoverished regions of the country.

Spillover effect

Based on strong returns from its early solar farms, Solar Power Company Group has developed a strong enough balance sheet to start replicating its success both in Thailand and the Southeast Asian region. This growth has largely been independent of government funding, demonstrating the power of early-stage, strategic investments that are often necessary to unlock a climate-smart opportunity that can be replicated around the globe and be financed on a commercial basis beyond an initial support period.

Ms. Khunchornyakong is also turning her sights to the rural solar photovoltaic market in Myanmar. Only 13% of Myanmar’s population has access to electricity, leaving more than 43 million people to either go without power or to rely on diesel generators, which are both expensive and polluting. Solar Power Company Group’s innovative and saleable off-grid solar solutions could provide the spark for clean, widespread energy access in Myanmar.


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