* Two-thirds of budget go to 11 solar power projects
* First 38 MW solar power plant to start in Oct 2011
* Aims to produce at least 120 MW solar power (Recasts with five-year plan)
BANGKOK, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Thailand’s Bangchak Petroleum PCL (BCP.BK) said it planned to invest about 23 billion baht ($716 million) in the next five years, two-thirds of it for solar power plants as part of a drive to expand into green energy.
The oil refiner planned to invest about 15 billion baht to build 11 solar power plants with a combined capacity of at least 120 megawatts, President Anusorn Sangnimmuan told reporters on Thursday.
The company planned to focus on renewable energy and aimed to be a carbon-neutral company, reducing carbon emissions to zero in the next three to five years.
About 2.5 billion baht will be invested to upgrade its oil products to meet Euro 4 pollution standards and another 3 billion baht for ethanol and biodiesel projects, Anusorn said.
The remaining 2.5 billion baht will be spent on a potash mining project, which is in the financing phase, he said.
Bangchak has teamed up with China’s Suntech Power STP.N to build its first solar power plant in the central province of Ayutthaya at a cost of about 5 billion baht ($156 million).
The 38 MW power plant, expected to start operations in October 2011, should generate revenue of about 700 million baht a year, Anusorn said, adding the planned 120 MW solar power projects should generate about 2 billion baht a year.
The government is promoting the use of renewable energy, aiming to generate 10 percent of power from such sources within 15 years.
In July, Electricity Generating (EGCO.BK) joined with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T) and Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings Ltd (0002.HK) to build a 73 megawatt solar power plant in Lopburi province, one of the world’s largest solar energy projects.
Bangchak, majority owned by the Thai Finance Ministry and state-controlled energy giant PTT (PTT.BK), has a refining capacity of 120,000 barrels per day.
At 0900 GMT Bangchak shares were up 0.7 percent at 14.50 baht, in line with the broader market .SETI. ($1=32.13 Baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alan Raybould)