July 19 (UPI) -- A regional development bank said it spent more than $50 million on shares in a Thai power company in order to help develop renewable energy in Southeast Asia.
The Asian Development Bank acquired 123 million shares in the initial public offering for B. Grimm Power Public Co., one of the largest private energy companies in Thailand. The power company operates 12 natural gas-powered plant, 15 solar power plants and plans to more than double its renewable energy generation capacity to 30 percent.
Jackie Surtani, who directs private sector operations for the ADB, said the investment will help B. Grimm diversify and expand its reach into developing countries in Southeast Asia.
"In doing so, the project will help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in its transition to a low-carbon economy through the development of renewable energy," she said in a statement.
The pace of development in Southeast Asia means electricity consumption is on pace to grow by more than 8 percent each year for at least the next 10 years. The ADB said its $57.7 million investment will target solar, wind and other renewable efforts by B. Grimm in Asian economies stretching from Myanmar to Cambodia.
Emerging economies in the region are searching for new ways to access power. In Myanmar, only about 30 percent of the country's rural population has access to a reliable source of energy and the government needs to build up the grid for 40,000 villages to meet its goal.
"ADB is also planning to provide later a corporate loan facility to B. Grimm to support its future expansion and development of gas-fired and renewable power projects in the ASEAN region," the development bank said.
A recent report from the World Bank said there could be secondary benefits for some Asian countries rich in the mineral resources used in renewable energy technology. ASEAN member states Malaysia and Philippines could capitalize, for example, on their reserves of bauxite and nickel.
"Countries with capacity and infrastructure to supply the minerals and metals required for cleaner technologies have a unique opportunity to grow their economies if they develop their mining sectors in a sustainable way," Riccardo Puliti, the head of an extractive industries unit at the World Bank, said in a statement.