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Ikea feeds clean energy to Thai grid with new solar roof

Singapore-based firms Ikano and Phoenix Solar have teamed up to install an array of 4,000 solar panels atop Bangkok’s Megabangna shopping mall to supply renewable energy to the city’s grid.

Ikea Thailand has installed about 4,000 units of solar panels atop Bangkok’s Megabangna shopping mall, becoming one of the first companies in Thailand to feed renewable energy into the city grid under a feed-in tariff programme launched by the government last year.

Ikano Pte Ltd, the Singapore-based franchise owner of several Ikea stores in Southeast Asia including Thailand, announced on Tuesday the newly installed solar rooftop will provide 999 kilowatts at peak capacity.

The electricity generated from the solar panels can power up at least 200 average homes in Thailand, while reducing about 716,000 kg of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The electricity generated from the solar panels can power up at least 200 average homes in Thailand, while reducing about 716,000 kg of carbon dioxide emissions each year

The Megabangna mall, which is also partly owned by Ikano, is home to Ikea’s largest home furnishing retail store in Southeast Asia. The furniture giant had earlier set up a small number of photovoltaic panels on its rooftop since the retail chain opened in 2011.

The firm partnered with Singapore-based solar systems integrator Phoenix Solar to engineer, procure and construct the solar panel system.

Gemma Brierley, chief operations officer for Ikano, said the company expects good returns from the project - commercially and environmentally. “This project not only makes good business sense, but it also contributes in a meaningful way to the development of renewable energy in Southeast Asia,” said Brierley.

The firm has enrolled the project under the Thai government’s feed-in tariff (FiT) solar rooftop scheme, launched last July 2013, in which solar power investors are guaranteed the preferential rate for the electricity they generate for a 25-year period, instead of a 10-year period as earlier announced.

For the Megabangna, which is one of the first licensees in the ‘medium to large building’ category, Thailand’s National Energy Policy Commission has approved the rate to be at THB6.55/kW over 25 years.

Christophe Inglin, managing director of Phoenix Solar, said this development is a testament to Thailand’s potential as a key market for growth in the photovoltaics sector. “Thailand is a leading market in Asia for solar PV and a key market for Phoenix Solar,” said Inglin. 

The solar firm said that including the Megabangna project, which was completed within two months, it now has a total of 56MW of solar projects – both rooftop and solar farms - in Thailand.

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