Ekarat solar plant at full capacity by 2009

Ekarat solar plant at full capacity by 2009

Ekarat Engineering Plc, a SET-listed transformer and solar-cell operator, will invest up to 800 million baht next year to purchase equipment for its new solar-cell plant. Chief executive Kietphong Noichaiboon said the new plant, operated by its subsidiary Ekarat Solar Co Ltd, was located in Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong.

The new facility should start operations by the end of June next year, with initial production capacity of six megawatts.

Full capacity was 30 megawatts per year, Mr Kietphong said.

The company’s solar-cell business is expected to contribute around 26%, or 720 million baht, of expected consolidated revenue of 2.7 billion baht next year.

Meanwhile, revenue of around two billion baht would be generated by its transformer business, said Mr Kietphong.

The solar-cell and transformer businesses are expected to contribute equal income in 2008, when total revenue is expected to reach four billion baht.

Ekarat Solar aims to be operating at full capacity by 2009. By then, 60% of consolidated revenue would be derived from the solar business, said Mr Kietphong.

”If our plans are materialised within estimated time frames, we would consider investing around 20 billion baht in upstream material production after 2009, aiming to develop a fully-integrated solar-cell complex.”

Ekarat aims to export 80% of its products and sell the rest in the domestic market, according to Wiwat Sangtian, managing director for Ekarat.

Key export markets were in European countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Greece, said Mr Wiwat.

”The majority of our solar-cell products would continue to be exported unless the government actively promoted the use of solar power in this country,” he said.

The Energy Ministry increased the purchase price of solar power to around 10 baht per unit last Monday, from two baht per unit, for the next seven years, to raise the popularity of solar cells in Thailand, said Mr Wiwat.

He said the chief executive of Ekarat would meet with solar-wafer manufacturers in China this week to discuss future business co-operation.

”We’re looking for a foreign strategic partner to support our business or who may aim to acquire not more than 49% of Ekarat Solar’s shares,” said Mr Wiwat.The partnership would be finalised in the next couple months, added Mr Wiwat.

Ekarat also plans to launch new solar-cell products such as water pumps and telephone booths in the future.

Ekarat yesterday reported nine-month net profit of 99.33 million baht for 2006, a decrease of 22.66% from 128 million in the same period last year, on sales of 1.22 billion baht, up 13.64%.

Third-quarter net profit fell 11% year-on-year to 50.8 million baht on sales of 449 million, up 5%.

Due to investment, its debt-to-equity ratio will increase to 1.1 times from 0.5.

Ekarat (AKR) shares closed yesterday on the SET at 2.86 baht, up 26 satang, in trade worth 330.5 million baht.

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