Thailand’s ‘solar gold rush’ could see public selling rooftop power from September
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Thailand’s ‘solar gold rush’ could see public selling rooftop power from September

THAILAND may allow households and factories with solar rooftops to start selling excess electricity to the national power grid from September, in a bid by the kingdom to slash power bills and increase emphasis on renewable energy.

Thailand is already Southeast Asia’s leading solar market; there were 2.75GW of new solar power installations by the end of September 2016, a marked increase from 722MW installations in 2015 and 470MW in 2014, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The kingdom’s integrated energy blueprint and focus on renewable power sources will ensure these numbers will grow over the year and beyond, says Legal Business Online.

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A report by Bangkok-based law firm Pugnatorius Ltd titled Thailand Solar Outlook 2017 forecast that 2017 will be the kingdom’s “second solar gold rush”. World-leading PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow, in a December 2016 release citing the report, said further industry growth is expected “as technologies continue to improve and costs fall”.

Recognising the rush, the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) proposed September as the date from which members of the public and businesses can start selling excess power generated from their solar rooftops, according to Bangkok Post.

DEDE director-general Praphon Wontharua said household and factory solar generators could be selling an estimated 100MW of power to the national grid provider, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), once the scheme takes off.

This is expected to help reduce the public’s power costs and provide the grid with additional power especially during peak demand periods, on top of promoting use of renewable energy.

Chulalongkorn University will determine the details of the project and present them to the Energy Ministry and the National Energy Policy Council for approval.

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Via the Alternative Energy Development Plan, EGAT hopes to increase the kingdom’s use of renewable energy to 30 percent of the total final energy consumption by 2036. On the supply side, recent revisions to Thailand’s Power Development Plan (PDP2015) states that renewable power will account for up to 40 percent of the country’s total power output, writes Ampai Harakunarak, a research director for Sustainable Development at the Thailand Development Research Institute, in a Bangkok Post opinion article last month.

“The increasing target for renewable energy reflects growing confidence in renewable energy technologies, as well as increasing estimated potential,” the researcher said.

Thailand’s Energy Efficiency Plan also has an energy saving target of reducing energy intensity by 30 percent, compared to 2010 targets.