Thailand will invest $19 billion in energy over five years

pix5Thailand’s public and private sectors are expected to invest roughly $19 billion over the next three to five years on both petroleum and renewable energy projects, an Energy Ministry official said last week as the country works towards increasing it share of renewables to 20 percent of all energy sources by 2036.

The bulk of the investment, or about $9.6 billion, will be devoted to developing petroleum sources, while about $2.9 billion will be invested in renewable energy plants and generators. Another $3.4 billion will be channeled towards energy-saving technologies and measures, while $3.5 billion will go to producing electricity through various other means.

Praphon Wongtharua, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Energy, presented the figures last week. In 2014, Thailand produced only 8 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Nonetheless, the Kingdom is still the leader in solar power and wind power production in Southeast Asia.

SMA Solar Technology AG of Germany, one of the leading countries as far as developing and using solar power as a percentage of its energy mix, announced last week that it had achieved 1 Gigawatt worth of solar inverter sales in Thailand. Solar inverters convert the variable direct current output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into alternating current (AC) that can be fed into a commercial electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network.

SMA established a subsidiary in Thailand in 2011, and the Kingdom is now the company’s fourth largest market in the Asia-Pacific region.

Suntisuk Mathinapitak, SMA Thailand country manager, said, “This has been a successful year for solar farm projects in Thailand and with the Government Agencies and Agricultural Cooperative solar farm program, as well as emerging residential and commercial markets, SMA expects to see further growth in this region.”

The Government Agencies and Agricultural Cooperative solar farm program – initiated by the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) – provides 800MW of licenses to grow additional opportunities for more utility-scale photovoltaic solar cells in Thailand.

Thailand is still heavily dependent, however, on fossil fuels. The Kingdom uses natural gas for almost 70 percent of its power generation, and is under pressure to secure long-term energy supplies as its own natural gas deposits in the Gulf of Thailand are expected to run out in six to seven years.

About a fifth of the natural gas used by the Kingdom is piped in from Myanmar.  Thailand’s western neighbor is expected, however, to use more of its natural gas resources for its own development in coming years and that may mean less will be available for sale to Thailand.



Thailand Focus Week of November 2, 2015
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