Basic Energy buys stake in 2 Thai EPC firms working on 220 MW Myanmar PV project

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Philippine-listed energy developer Basic Energy has purchased a 15% stake in two Thai EPC contractors, Vintage EPC Co. Ltd (VEPC) and VTE International Construction Co. Ltd (Vinter), based on an agreement inked with their parent company, Meta Corporation, thus marking its foray into solar energy overseas.

VEPC and Vinter are acting as the EPC supplier and construction service contractor, respectively, for a 220 MW solar power plant located in Minbu, in Myanmar’s Magway region.

The two subsidiaries of renewable energy project developer, Meta Corporation, formerly known as Vintage Engineering Public Company Limited (VTE), were awarded EPC contracts for the first phase of the US$275 million project by Thai renewable developer, Green Earth Power (GEP) in May 2016.

“We signed [for] the entry of Basic [Energy] into two EPC companies that are based in Thailand. They’re doing the EPC contract for the 220 MW solar project in Myanmar,” Basic Energy President and Chief Executive, Oscar L. de Venecia, Jr. told reporters after the company’s annual stockholders meeting on Wednesday.

The 220 MW was first announced in May 2013. The plan, design and construction of the project commenced in 2016 and is expected to be delivered across three 50 MW phases, and a final, 70 MW, phase.

The first phase, which is under construction, is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2019, after which it will start feeding electricity into the grid, based on a 30-year power purchase agreement that GEP signed with the Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

In August 2016, GEP revealed that it had chosen China Triumph International Engineering Group — a unit of state-owned China National Building Materials — to provide EPC services for the largest Phase 4 installation.

The 220 MW solar project supports the Myanmar Government’s aim to bring electricity to the entire country by 2030. It is the third largest utility-scale solar PV project in a pipeline of 1.5 GW, according to the data of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

However, while the country has reaped the benefits of off-grid solar as the number one driver of electrification, the development of utility-scale projects has been slowed down by numerous challenges.   

In a disclosure on Wednesday, Basic Energy said that as of December 31, 2017, the company had remitted around $2,622 million in earnest money deposits, which will be converted into its paid-in capital contribution to VEPC and Vinter on the closing dates stipulated in the share purchase agreements.

As reported last year, the Philippino company had the intention of acquiring a minimum 12.5% stake in VTE subsidiaries, while leaving an option open to raise this to 20%.

Basic Energy said it would continue to pursue its geothermal energy projects, while opportunities in other renewable energy projects, such as solar, wind and biomass energy, are currently undergoing due-diligence studies and work.

In terms of solar projects, the developer has been conducting due diligence on a 14 MW solar farm in Japan after remitting ¥50 million ($453,605) to Solmax Power Ltd of Hong Kong, and cleared its board to make a 49% equity investment in V.O. Net Biodiesel Asia Co. Ltd, which operates a 1.2 MW solar power plant located in Kalisin, Thailand.