Solar Power Demand to Soar in Coming Years
THAILAND Demand for solar energy in Thailand is projected to soar over the next six years, driven by the government's programme to promote renewable energy.
According to a source from the Energy Ministry, demand for solar energy will increase to 250 megawatts in 2010 from just six MW in 2003.
Renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower abound in Thailand and could be harnessed to generate electricity. But so far, they represent less than a 1 percent share of fuel used in electricity generation.
The energy conservation plan aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 8 percent by 2011.
In 2011, renewable energy sources would consist of solar, 250 MW; wind, 100 MW; municipal solid waste, 100 MW; hydro, 350 MW; and biomass 1,040 MW.
The plan calls for the Energy Ministry to issue a regulation under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which requires that 5 percent of the energy from new power facilities be generated from renewable sources.
For example, for the four new power plants to be built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) from 2008-2010, a total of 140 MW out of the planned total generation capacity of 2,800 MW must be derived from renewable sources.
The source added that the government would provide incentives for the purchase of power generated by renewable energy such as tax credits and privileges, and capital subsidies.
Dusit Kruangam, an engineering professor at Chulalongkorn University, said solar power stood as the best alternative since it had a stable price and regular supply.
He added that solar power had the potential to generate over 5,000 MW per year, second only to biomass, among alternative energy sources, which could generate 7,000 MW per year.
Recognising solar power as the best renewable energy resource, the Board of Investment has designated solar cell manufacturing as a specially promoted industry.
Dr Dusit projects that solar cell consumption in Thailand would be around 293 MW from 2004-2010 with a market value of 37.73 billion baht.
"The solar cell market is expected to enjoy steady growth at a rate of 25 percent per year between 2004 and 2013. In other words, the demand for solar cell energy will rise from 762 MW worldwide in 2003 to 7,097 MW in 2013. The increased demand will be a reflection of the global realisation of the need for energy conservation," he said.
He said that the price of developing solar cell energy in Thailand would drop from an estimated level of 180 million baht per MW in 2005 to 105 million baht per MW in 2010.
Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News