In an exclusive conversation with SolarQuarter ASEAN magazine, Mr. Franck Constant – CEO, Constant Energy talks about how the dynamics of the solar sector have changed in the region. He also speaks about the major projects undertaken by his company along with the corporate PPAs signed. He gives us insights into the company’s future plans as well.
1. How has the solar energy sector dynamics changed over the last few years in South East Asia?
From my point of view, the solar power industry has moved from a dynamic where Thailand was leading by far the amount of installed solar PV, with around 6GW through a long term progressively declining FIT policy, towards a mix of solar PV systems and wind energy in 2007. The situation over the last two years has shifted to allow Vietnam to become the largest installed solar PV market with 20GW installed through FIT on ground and rooftop projects under FIT, with Malaysia and Philippines catching up to Thailand progressively. Other large countries in South East Asia have essentially accomplished little so far in terms of solar PV build out due to issues ranging from domestic stability (Myanmar) to incumbent energy players’ resistance to change (Indonesia).
2. Could you please tell us about some major utility solar PV generation projects of yours in the South East Asian region?
While our management team has been very successful in deploying large scale solar PV projects from 2008-2016 around the world under the FIT global wave (over 140 projects built), Constant Energy has been recently focusing on the new wave of solar farms built for corporate PPA, allowing corporates to cut power costs and dramatically reduce their scope of carbon emissions contributing to greenhouse gases, by combining solar PV (ground, rooftop and floating), and energy storage systems (ex: battery storage solutions). The rapidly decreasing cost of these solutions enables us to provide an attractive sustainability journey to an increasing number of corporate clients looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions for a smaller and more sustainable carbon footprint to do their part in the fight against climate change.
3. How do you identify potential renewable energy investment opportunities in the region? Which factors do you focus upon?
We look initially at all markets where we can first build, own and operate a fleet of solar power stations (at least 100MW within 2 years), before focusing on countries that have a proven strong regulatory backbone for private power projects. Our people will be operating and managing those plants for 20 years and therefore we need to insert ourselves sustainably into the markets we choose to operate in.
4. Recently, your company has signed corporate PPAs for solar power. Please tell us a bit about them.
We focus on Fortune 1000 companies as clients as well as large locally respected industrial houses. We have recently signed a long term PPA with a JV bottling Coca Cola company for multiple sites in Thailand, one of the largest listed semiconductor producers in Thailand with over 20,000 staff and owner of all of Tata Steel group factories in Thailand. Our renewable energy clients are diversified across many different sectors but all share the same long-term outlook, prioritizing long term quality and efficiency. As a side benefit to these solar PV projects, our diverse team is very aware of the necessity of being good neighbours in the areas we operate and constantly seeks to improve our ESG performance (5 star GRESB in 2020 #1 among Thailand power generators). The management team has also been strong in aligning banks with the debt financing of our projects globally, with more recent efforts focused on Thailand and Vietnam to further enhance our capabilities to finance a larger amount of projects in our target regions.
5. How do you see Constant Energy evolve in the next 5 years?
Our goal is to become the most respected solar power provider to corporations in the markets we currently operate and to grow our operating fleet of solar PV plants by at least twentyfold while prudently expanding geographically to best serve our good customers in an ever-growing number of countries. The last solar power business we developed, we grew by twenty in five years across nine countries, so I think it is not only achievable to replicate such growth for Constant Energy, but also a moral imperative to do so given the current climate emergency in our world. We do this by constantly supporting the communities surrounding our projects with CSR projects (we have been awarded twice now the American Chamber of Commerce CSR Award in 2020 and 2021). We want our children and grandchildren to be proud of our business actions 20 years from now.