Symbior Solar’s clean energy impact in Asia

First Solar and Symbior Solar are sustainably-minded partners with a shared dedication to the environment and innovation. First Solar’s Antoine Wagschal recently spoke with Symbior Solar CEO Florian Bennhold about the longtime partnership and how climate concerns are boosting corporate solar procurement.

Bangkok-based Symbior Solar installs and operates solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants for commercial and industrial clients across Asia.  

We have a proven track record of solar power excellence in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China, and adhere to the highest international standards to ensure smooth operations and optimal energy output,” says Bennhold.

Symbior’s inaugural venture with First Solar was a 2013 ground-mounted project in Thailand that went on to be the best performing First Solar project in the region in 2016 and 2017. And the two companies have remained strong partners ever since.

“Just like Symbior, First Solar not only offers products for sustainability, but embodies a dedication to the environment and innovation on every level. Our projects powered by First Solar’s eco-efficient technology represent these shared values aimed at reliability and are focused on a common objective: delivering meaningful, sustainable projects,” says Bennhold. “The superior level of service, along with the high-quality products, distinguishes First Solar from the competition.”

“We have continued our engagement with First Solar by deploying five rooftop projects in Thailand in 2018 and 2019, and by supporting corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) adoption with customers like Michelin, Dole, Conwood, and KST.”

Corporations around the globe are tuning into the climate change conversation. They’re developing a better understanding of renewable energy, acknowledging that something needs to be done to combat climate change, and they’re taking it upon themselves to make it happen.

“Stewardship for our planet and the environment is increasingly becoming a global concern and climate change awareness is driving a particular focus on the use of renewable energy procurement and transition to a low carbon economy,” says Bennhold. “Clean energy contracts serve as a way to diversify energy spend and reduce susceptibility to the tangible risks associated with climate change.”

Technology companies still dominate clean energy procurement, but there are plenty of large corporations in other sectors of the economy who have investors, and even customers, championing the movement to decarbonize.  

“Many corporations feel that they need to step up and green their operations and supply chains to address this major end-customer concern.” 

Corporate sustainability commitments rose sharply in 2019 and were key factors in the record-breaking year for PPAs. Businesses are making bold statements about their clean energy goals, and sustainability and savings are top motivators. 

“Solar is also now a low-cost energy technology so it can deliver emissions reductions along with operating expense savings.” 

As with all growth, there are both opportunities and challenges in the mix. In Asia, Symbior is navigating regulatory hurdles, especially for onsite, small scale installations.  

““These challenges hamper swift growth and limit scalability across borders,” says Bennhold.

But the opportunities are exciting. With rooftop and ground-mount operating costs now at the same level as other energy types, solar PV is a more cost effective and subsidy-free option, making it an attractive choice for corporations looking to invest in off-site or on-site projects.  

“All countries in Asia are now on grid-parity for on-site generation which allows for subsidy independent growth.”  

Another opportunity is found in the growing global mindfulness of climate change, especially within the next generation. 

“Global awareness and concern are evident in movements such as Fridays for Future, and show the growing mega-trend permeating all aspects of society, particularly among young people.”  

As the global rallying cry for action grows, First Solar and Symbior will continue to support corporations looking to respond to environmental concerns and move toward energy independence. 

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