Thailand raises renewable energy target

Thailand’s energy policy makers set a goal to go even greener, raising the country’s target for renewable energy to 40 percent of all energy sources by 2036 last week, an increase of 15 percent from the previous target, in the most recent revision to the Alternative Energy Development Plan, while also pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, an increase of 5 percent.

Thailand’s government had previously committed to sourcing 25 percent of the nation’s energy from renewables by 2036. The Kingdom is already the leader in solar and wind power in Southeast Asia, although their contributions to Thailand’s overall energy supply are still relatively small. Policymakers will soon begin studying what sources of renewable energy would provide the best mix for the country’s needs.

The new target would mean the country’s total renewable power-generating capacity would be 40,000 megawatts (MW) in 2036, up from 19,600MW under the previous plan. This would necessitate a true national effort with greater participation in new projects by private firms, aside from state utilities.

Private sector power players, however, urged the government to come up with clearer policies and regulations to encourage investment. Many in the private sector are keen to enter the renewable energy sector, some said, but were waiting to see clearer rules and regulations from the government before making the commitment.

“Since the capacity is due to double through [the government’s] policy, it should have appropriate regulations to govern the sector, as massive investment is about to be poured into it. The government should be ready for it or even set up a special committee to govern the industry,” said Cherdsak Wattanavijitkul, managing director of TPC Power Holding.

Prasert Sinsukprasert, deputy director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office said solar rooftop installations and biomass projects would probably account for a significant part of the additional sources of green power because other parts of the renewable power sector are becoming saturated.

In line with that view, Sharp Corporation of Japan, through its Thai subsidiary Sharp Solar Solution Asia, agreed last week to develop rooftop PV solar projects for Big C, one of Thailand’s largest hypermarket retailers.