Climate change and the problems of urban pollution are never far from the agenda. We talked to Bundit Sapianchai, President and CEO of BCPG Plc., a leading innovator in the renewables sector, about the possibilities of a cleaner future.

The combined social problems of climate change, urban pollution and declining natural fuels have pushed renewable energy to the top of the agenda. The International Energy Agency (IEA) declared in 2016 that renewables were the fastest growing sector in the global energy industry, accounting for two-thirds of net new power capacity around the world. New solar PV capacity around the world grew by 50% in the same period, with China leading the way. The IEA expect this strong growth to continue, particularly with solar PV capacity outperforming the rest in India and China.

But there is still much to be done. A report by BP in 2018, while arguing that renewables will grow by 400% by 2040, says that even so, they will only account for 14% of total global energy demand. Even more alarmingly in the contact of climate change, BP say that carbon emissions will also grow by 10% in the same period. And much of the growth in renewables will be led by China and India, meaning that other advanced economies are not investing as they should.

So it’s great to hear from companies leading the way in renewables innovation. BCPG Plc. is one of Asia-Pacific’s leading renewable energy companies, with solar power, wind power and geothermal power businesses in Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. We talked to BCPG’s President and CEO, Bundit Sapianchai about the company’s growth and innovation strategy.

Tell us more about what BCPG does as a company

BCPG Plc. was established in 2015 as part of the restructuring policy of the renewable power business group of the Bangchak Corporation Ltd. and its subsidiaries. Its remit was to operate clean and environmentally-friendly renewable power businesses.

BCPG’s main goal is to invest in and operate green power plants.  Currently we are in four countries and work with three technologies. However, we also aim to diversify into more types of renewable energy and seek to develop innovative products and services.

One of the main problems of renewables is to make them available more widely and at the right price. We decided to take a leading role in transforming the energy sector by making renewable energy accessible and affordable by all.

What products do you offer, and how global is your reach?

Our reach is limited at the moment to solar power plants in Thailand and Japan, investments in the wind power business in the Philippines, and investment in the geothermal power sector in Indonesia.

We have a strong interest in all renewables innovation, so we invest in solar power, wind power and geothermal power. All of these sectors have potential to transform the energy sector in different regions and countries of the world.

What makes you different as a provider of green renewable energy?

Our business model is all about harnessing new technological innovation to enhance the adoption of renewables. So, for example, with global digital transformation, BCPG is striding into the retail space, aided by the added value of the peer-to-peer trading platform. Consumers can generate their own electricity and their surplus can be traded with the help of cutting-edge technology, which also enables BCPG to provide energy management service.

Is the world ready for renewables? What kinds of obstacles do you encounter in your business?

Yes, I absolutely believe that the world is ready for renewables, as your statistics show. Of course, the world is facing many tensions, not least over how we will provide energy to a global population to maintain our improving standards of living in the face of climate change. We know that emerging powerhouses like China are far advanced in deploying environmental solutions to urban pollution and climate change, and other nations need to be ready to follow.

But renewable energy technologies are far further advanced than many may believe.  For me, the challenge of changing the face of energy systems is not about technology, it’s about imagination.  The technological challenges of building and maintaining distributed microgrids were solved a decade ago and have been continuously improving. The challenge of change, however, is to accept that the physical and economic frameworks of the energy system can be fundamentally different.

What would you say have been your points of critical success as you’ve developed as a company?

The things we are most proud of is firstly, our clear mission and goal – we have closely aligned out mission and values with our purpose, and we hope that we will provide a model for the energy industry as humanity looks to create a better and more sustainable future.

We are also proud of the knowledge and expertise of our employees. Without them, we would not be as technologically advanced and engaged as we are.

We are particularly pleased with our achievements in Thailand, where we are now a leading renewable energy company with a focus on our ‘clean’ renewable energy business, which means that we deal in no other types of energy such as oil or gas.

What are your plans for the next five years?

Currently three major trends are transforming the energy system. These trends are electrification, decentralisation and digitalisation.  It will be a game-changing disruption.

As we shift to more renewable sources, electrification creates further environmental benefits by shifting many end-uses of electricity away from fossil fuel sources.  Electrification of large sectors of the economy such as transport and heating will continue in line with carbon goals.

Decentralisation makes customers active elements of the system as customers in the future energy system will be able to produce, consume, store, and sell electricity using grid edge technologies and services.

Digitalisation which allows for open, real-time, automated communication and operation of the system supports both the other trends by enabling more control, including automatic, real-time optimization

All this means that future energy system will provide additional roles for the grid and incorporate many customer technologies.  At the same time, automated technology and analytics will influence customer consumption and contribute to new customer services.

We are studying these trends very seriously and as working on strategy for sustainable growth.  In the short-term, while we plan to continue to grow our base through conventional or wholesale renewable energy business, we are working on our retail strategy in order to getting closer to the customers. And we’ll be using innovations like blockchain technology to develop our peer-to-peer trading platform and beyond, to strategies such as energy efficiency management and demand response.

We remain optimistic that the world will wake up and realise we have the capacity to deliver clean and cheap energy, which will transform the world for the better.