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Thailand’s Banpu leverages subsidiaries for push into Asia-Pacific BESS markets

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Banpu NEXT, a renewables subsidiary of Thai energy company Banpu, is targeting the Asia-Pacific region’s battery-based clean energy opportunities with battery manufacturer Durapower.

While Banpu is a vertically integrated energy company active in resources, generation and technologies, including being Thailand’s biggest producer and distributor of coal, Banpu NEXT is a developer of renewable energy assets.   

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That includes a large portfolio of delivered commercial and industrial (C&I) solar PV projects in Thailand, mostly under 1MW generation capacity each, as well as large-scale ground mounted PV plants in Japan and China.

Banpu NEXT acquired a majority stake in Singapore-headquartered battery manufacturer and battery systems solutions provider Durapower in March this year, taking its holding in the company from 47.68% to 65.1% through an investment valued at US$70 million.

At the time, Banpu NEXT said the acquisition would enable the renewables company to leverage its new subsidiary to gain a foothold to scale up its energy storage business. The investment would enable Durapower meanwhile to scale up its operations: scaling up production capacity in China, accelerating the setup of new assembly plants in Thailand and in Poland.

Aiming to create localised supply chains and a diversified manufacturing base, Durapower’s goal is to reach about 4GWh annual production capacity by 2025. While that’s obviously fairly small compared to established giants like CATL or LG, it tallies with a recent trend of companies setting up battery and BESS solutions production facilities in Southeast Asia.

Recent announcements include Gotion Hi-Tech planning production in Thailand and Vietnam, the latter being that country’s first lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cell factory, and state-owned Indonesia Battery Corporation exploring opportunities to build manufacturing and integration plants, among others.

This morning, Banpu NEXT said Durapower’s liquid-cooled lithium-ion containerised battery energy storage system (BESS) technology has been successfully implemented at a solar PV-battery hybrid power plant at a mining site in Indonesia.

Called Bunyut Solar PV Hybrid, the 1MWh BESS paired with the site’s solar array, is helping to increase the self-sufficiency of the site, which is owned and operated by another Banpu Group company, Indo Tambangraya Megah (ITMG).

Claiming it marked an important step in the creation of a vertically integrated energy storage solutions offering, Banpu NEXT said Durapower’s localised supply chain enabled on-time delivery of the project, which will reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable energy at the Indonesia mine.

As a project, it appears similar in scope to another Indonesian coal mine project for ITMG by Hitachi Energy (then known as Hitachi ABB Power Grids) that Energy-Storage.news reported on in February 2021 shortly after it was completed. That project was slightly larger, pairing 12MWp of PV with a 2MW/2MWh BESS.

The two companies were partnered on various different projects and business prior to the Banpu NEXT majority takeover, such as electric cars, ferries and small passenger vehicles like tuk-tuks. Production capacity was increased at Durapower’s facilities to enable a greater push into the energy storage system (ESS) space.

The next step, Banpu NEXT said yesterday, will be to roll out the BESS offering to other Banpu Group companies.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 1st Energy Storage Summit Asia, 11-12 July 2023 in Singapore. The event will help give clarity on this nascent, yet quickly growing market, bringing together a community of credible independent generators, policymakers, banks, funds, off-takers and technology providers. For more information, go to the website.

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