MSC aims for fleet of solar pyramids
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MSC aims for fleet of solar pyramids

Singapore-based technology firm MSC Power Corp is building its first sun-driven wind power station in India.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 18:05 IST

Singapore-based technology firm MSC Power Corp is building its first sun-driven wind power station in India and aims to list this year on NASDAQ in an initial public offering that it says could be worth more than $5 billion.

The Singapore-based firm, backed by private investors from the Middle East and Asia, will finish constructing a small $10 million five megawatt (MW) power station by June in Pune near Mumbai that will use solar energy to power wind turbines.

"We're looking at global expansion," Chairman Steven Mok told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a power industry conference.

"We're planning an IPO this year that could be $5 billion and up."

He said the firm was still choosing banks to advise on the IPO, which was likely to be in the fourth quarter.

Depending on the success of the IPO, Mok said the firm hoped to build over 1,000 such plants in India in the next four years, with China seen as the second largest potential market.

India and China are trying to boost power generation amid strong economic growth, though surging oil and gas prices have made renewable energies such as wind power more competitive.

MSC has designed a pyramid-shaped power plant that draws in ambient air and heats it through solar power and solar heat to drive turbines.

The heat is also used to warm stored water, which can reduce the electricity needed to electrolyse it to produce cooking gas and to desalinate water for drinking.

The small scale of the power generation - up to 36 MW with the current design - meant it was more suitable for rural areas than for powering cities, Mok said. A large coal or nuclear power plant may generate around 1,000 MW of power.

"A cost saving is that we are localised, so it cuts down on transmission needs," Mok said.

Capital costs are around $2 million per megawatt of power, around double for that of wind in India, but running costs were low at under 2 cents per kilowatt hour, Mok said, less than the 6-8 cents per kilowatt hour the company expected to get from selling power in India.

"It will take about three years to pay back," Mok said.

"The advantage over wind is the small space - about 3-5 per cent of the area needed for a wind farm, and the reliability of supply."

A 10 MW pyramid plant would be about 45 metres high and take up about 2,500 square metres of space, including an associated desalination plant.

The company is also hoping to build 10 MW power and desalination plants in Chennai, India, and in Sudan, as well as 2 MW commercial power plant prototypes in Malaysia, China and Thailand.

The plants take around nine months to a year to build.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 18:05 IST