October 27, 2016 / 5:15 AM / 3 years ago

Engie seeks to power Asia with gas, renewables

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - France’s Engie, the world’s largest independent power producer, is rolling out natural gas and renewable power projects across Asia-Pacific as it gradually exits coal-fired power generation in the region.

The logo of French gas and power group Engie is seen on the company tower at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

“We will go to low carbon solutions ... it’s not sure that coal power plants will remain sustainable for (the next) 30 years,” Engie Asia Pacific’s President and Chief Executive Officer Jan Flachet told Reuters.

Renewables accounted for more than half of net annual additions to power capacity and overtook coal in terms of cumulative installed capacity in the world for the first time in 2015, the International Energy Agency said this week.

“This market evolution has had a huge impact on the energy market,” Flachet said, with Engie investing in technologies such as geothermal, biomass and hydrogen storage, as well as solar and wind.

Natural gas would remain important to resolve intermittent power generation issues from renewables, he said.

In Indonesia, which has struggled to meet strong demand growth for electricity demand as projects stall over license or land clearance issues, Engie has submitted a bid to build a 150-megawatt (MW) gas-fired power project in Riau province in a government tender, Flachet said.

It expects to start construction next year at a 100 MW geothermal power plant in Muara Laboh, in west Sumatra, the first of three such projects, he said, with more tenders for power projects to come.

The company is also in talks with state power company PLN over feed-in tariffs for two solar projects of 200 MW and plans to tap on biomass such as bamboo and palm oil waste to generate electricity, he said.

To power up islands in the Philippines, Indonesia and remote areas in Australia, Engie is developing solar-hydrogen storage that will be competitive enough to replace diesel generators, Flachet said.

In Myanmar, Engie hopes to capitalize on its huge growth potential for electricity, although the country will first have to install a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, he said.

Engie also has a 50 MW wind power project in Mongolia, he said.

In Australia, meanwhile, Engie is considering a sale of its 70 percent stake in the 1000 megawatt (MW) Loy Yang B plant and may close its 50-year-old Hazelwood unit, Flachet said.

It also expects to complete by end-2016 the sale of a 40 percent stake in Indonesia’s largest coal-fired power generator PT Paiton Energy to an international investor, he said.

(This story corrects name of geothermal project to Muara Laboh, in west Sumatra, not Rantau Dedap in south Sumatra in paragraph 7)

Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Richard Pullin

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