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Solar-powered Thailand and the future of renewable energy in SE Asia


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Solar-powered Thailand and the future of renewable energy in SE Asia
By Matthew G Heling
Special to The Nation

 

BANGKOK: -- The future for solar power has never looked brighter. Aided by recent commitments from world leaders to reduce the effects of climate change and decrease the globe’s dependence on fossil fuels, solar photovoltaic (solar PV) solutions are now at the forefront of viable alternatives to conventional energy.

 

Governments in Southeast Asia have also begun to embrace the change, leading to significant growth in renewable energy deployment in the region in recent years.

 

Reaching solar grid parity

 

Governments across the region have encouraged solar PV solutions primarily through subsidies such as feed-in tariff schemes. The tariffs have often been set significantly above wholesale prices, so as to encourage investment in historically higher-cost renewable technologies. While this has led to increased installation of renewables, these subsidies can be expensive to society, and are not expected to continue in the long term.

 

However, according to a detailed analysis by Poyry’s electricity market model, solar PV grid parity – the point at which the cost of solar PV drops to match the cost of electricity from the grid (even without any subsidies), potentially leading to a drastic increase in solar deployment – is expected to occur in Thailand in 2023-2024 from a wholesale perspective. It is estimated that retail grid parity for solar PV will also occur within the next few years, with residential and commercial grid parity in the mid-2020s, and industrial as soon as 2019 – just a couple of years from now.

 

Thailand’s shift to sun-power

 

In Southeast Asia, Thailand has so far been the leader in promoting solar power in large utility-scale applications with government subsidies. With a further shift to solar now expected, Thailand can be in an advantageous position to ride this renewable energy trend and become a centre for solar PV technology in this region.

 

The power sector remains an attractive investment segment in Thailand and the government plans to almost double the power generation capacity in the next 20 years under its Power Development Plan (PDP 2015).

 

Right now, gas-fired power generation accounts for around 70 per cent of the electricity mix. However, energy security and the environmental impacts of using fossil fuels are of increasing concern, so Thailand is currently seeking to reduce gas-fired power generation to 40 per cent by 2036, according to its PDP 2015. Solar PV is a logical alternative to help with this shift, not only for its environmental and energy security benefits, but also as a tool to decentralise electricity generation and attract new investors in this sector.

 

Matthew G Heling is head of Asia Pacific Energy Consulting for the international engineering consultancy Poyry.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/opinion/30310581

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-03-29
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Having solar on the roof with a 5 kva inverter, my power bill has been a constant 40 baht a month for years, the benefit of solar is well worth the out lay, Solar hot water / tank are still very hard to come by and more companies need to expand into this market, at the moment this type is still on the high price and only volume will bring the price down, 

advances in solar panels life and better generation of power have improved since I installed my 10 panels, so those who come after will get a better product,

Investing in solar by the government is minimal, the sun is there every day, coal and nuclear have too many by products as we all know, 

"Its too good to be true free power from the sun",  only trouble is the area that needs to used to generate the power needed, coal and nuclear take up minimal space and generate more usable power.  wind is a valuable source of  power but the true height needed to generate the same power out puts as coal and nuclear, means  they need to be built up in the jet stream, doing so is yet unattainable, but some sort of kite  device that has not been invented yet, (maybe),

 

Thorium testing is still going on and indications so far are no by product for use in power plants, 

investing in these companies may be a good thing , I will  keep looking and learning to what small part I can play in leaving a better place for my children.

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55 minutes ago, Jeffrey346 said:

I agree that solar has it's advantages... My issue is payback..  seems it will take at least 10 years.

That is the issue.  By 2020, a watt of solar is suppose to cost B30.  Today it is around B33.  As prices fall and power goes up, where do you start investing ?  Technology and manufacturing capacity drive price.  Capacity is easy to judge, but technological breakthroughs lack certainty.  Just keep watching the price per watt.

Also, 24V (volts) is fine for running LED lights.  You can also find washer / driers, coffee makers, fans, air conditioners and I believe TV's that run off of 24V, making solar more interesting.  These item do cost more than the 220V counter parts. 

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Matthew G Heling, you do write well,  if you keep beautifully regurgitating the government line while foregoing your dream of being a real hard-hitting investigative journalist. you will always have a job in Asia. 

 

When Thailand drop import taxes on all solar, wind and other parts needed to make renewable systems viable in Thailand and encourage other government policies to reduce the bearers to going renewable you might be right there maybe a bright future for solar.

 

Yes "the sector remains an attractive investment segment in Thailand"  but it might be better if it was more than just selling and reselling them again and again, the same few solar farms to different companies to raise stock prices with purchase announcements to different companies over and over again. Oops, Do I imply there are not dozens of large viable solar farms in Thailand already? 

Maybe see what Austrailia is doing to promote solar on a local scale and how it encourages small producers to supply the need during peak draw times. Thailand historically just subsidises their few rich friends with huge soon to be outdated model solar farms. I might ask you, how does the Thai Government connect to the grid program compare 

 

Matthew, maybe you could write a follow up on how you personally see the Thai government is actively achieving the goals you say it has set for its self to "decentralise electricity generation and attract new investors in this sector" I would like to read about it. As I fail to see it here. Let's try this time, to support your implied statements with facts and examples for statements you claim by implying they are facts. 

 

Looking forward to more hard hard-hitting news stories by the farang authors at The Nation.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, leeneeds said:

Having solar on the roof with a 5 kva inverter, my power bill has been a constant 40 baht a month for years, the benefit of solar is well worth the out lay, Solar hot water / tank are still very hard to come by and more companies need to expand into this market, at the moment this type is still on the high price and only volume will bring the price down, 

advances in solar panels life and better generation of power have improved since I installed my 10 panels, so those who come after will get a better product,

Investing in solar by the government is minimal, the sun is there every day, coal and nuclear have too many by products as we all know, 

"Its too good to be true free power from the sun",  only trouble is the area that needs to used to generate the power needed, coal and nuclear take up minimal space and generate more usable power.  wind is a valuable source of  power but the true height needed to generate the same power out puts as coal and nuclear, means  they need to be built up in the jet stream, doing so is yet unattainable, but some sort of kite  device that has not been invented yet, (maybe),

 

Thorium testing is still going on and indications so far are no by product for use in power plants, 

investing in these companies may be a good thing , I will  keep looking and learning to what small part I can play in leaving a better place for my children.

interesting to hear of some one in thailand with solar power. great job. i just built a sleepout near my house in new zealand and got a stand alone system with a built in battery. it was a surreal moment when i plugged the panel into the unit and it started charging. i plan to do an off grid cabin later in life when i can move out of the city, maybe with a plug in car i can charge in and draw back from. i always had the opinion that solar did not produce enough energy. in reality it is just that we use too much and need to become more energy efficient.

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“…Thailand has so far been the leader in promoting solar power in large utility-scale applications with government subsidies.

 

Oh NOOO!!! Just look at what they've done with electricity. If they can't understand the concept of grounding, how can they be expected to master solar energy? Please don't let Thailand have anything to do with the sun. If anyone can destroy it, it is Thailand.

Edited by jaltsc
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1 hour ago, yellowboat said:

That is the issue.  By 2020, a watt of solar is suppose to cost B30.  Today it is around B33.  As prices fall and power goes up, where do you start investing ?  Technology and manufacturing capacity drive price.  Capacity is easy to judge, but technological breakthroughs lack certainty.  Just keep watching the price per watt.

Also, 24V (volts) is fine for running LED lights.  You can also find washer / driers, coffee makers, fans, air conditioners and I believe TV's that run off of 24V, making solar more interesting.  These item do cost more than the 220V counter parts. 

You are correct. Use caravan appliances. May take longer to make a cuppa, but will taste better in the end.

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Not sure what to exactly think of solar panels as a whole, especially just the flat ones. Unless they are rotating to follow the sun, lots of money wasted in terms of investment:return. I ought to update my research list and look into solar again just to be on a more up to date situation again.

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Whats the environmental cost of manufacturing solar panels? Why do you need hot water in Thailand?

Isnt their output too small for most things, storing electric in batteries, whats the environmental cost of producing the batteries etc........curious here not critical

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2 hours ago, williamgeorgeallen said:

interesting to hear of some one in thailand with solar power. great job. i just built a sleepout near my house in new zealand and got a stand alone system with a built in battery. it was a surreal moment when i plugged the panel into the unit and it started charging. i plan to do an off grid cabin later in life when i can move out of the city, maybe with a plug in car i can charge in and draw back from. i always had the opinion that solar did not produce enough energy. in reality it is just that we use too much and need to become more energy efficient.

Just for us doubters, could you do a cost comparison to running out a mains wire? I really would like to know the price of a 'surreal moment'.

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18 minutes ago, halloween said:

Just for us doubters, could you do a cost comparison to running out a mains wire? I really would like to know the price of a 'surreal moment'.

 

for me i only paid 400$ for a solar kit to run my entertainment system, charge my devices and run the lights.  would have cost 1000$ at least to get my sleepout hard wired, probably more it the wire had to be trenched. guess the surreal moment cost me at least negative 600$, in other words it saved me at least 600$. made it even more surreal. was a 5 min install.  i love the prepper aspect of being off grid as well. i am now saving my power bills on my main house to see how much power i use to take the leap into paying about 10 000$ to go full solar. my friend did it in oz 3 years ago and now pays almost no electricity bill.

Edited by williamgeorgeallen
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The problem isnt Solar panels, isnt the technology either.The problem is getting someone to install them who knows, understands whats required, and can do it properly !!

Good luck with that.

 

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, williamgeorgeallen said:

 

for me i only paid 400$ for a solar kit to run my entertainment system, charge my devices and run the lights.  would have cost 1000$ at least to get my sleepout hard wired, probably more it the wire had to be trenched. guess the surreal moment cost me at least negative 600$, in other words it saved me at least 600$. made it even more surreal. was a 5 min install.  i love the prepper aspect of being off grid as well. i am now saving my power bills on my main house to see how much power i use to take the leap into paying about 10 000$ to go full solar. my friend did it in oz 3 years ago and now pays almost no electricity bill.

Why would it cost $1000 to wire a sleepout?

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48 minutes ago, halloween said:

Why would it cost $1000 to wire a sleepout?

it requires a new fuse on the fusebox in the main house. might get away with doing a suspended cable and ducting to a new fusebox with 2 more breakers in the sleepout which is required as it it going for lights and outlets. if the ground has to be smashed up and the wire ducted underground it would be much more. 

the panel on the roof is far better than a cable hung across the gap.

Edited by williamgeorgeallen
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9 hours ago, webfact said:

Aided by recent commitments from world leaders to reduce the effects of climate change and decrease the globe’s dependence on fossil fuels, solar photovoltaic (solar PV) solutions are now at the forefront of viable alternatives to conventional energy.

Funny I see a line drawn through Trumps signature. 

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Go figure one weeks its national coal produced electricity week and a couple weeks later its national solar week. Tylenol please my eyes are starting to cross watching the bouncing ball and I am getting one of those electric headaches. This is starting to look like the sub story did when first trial ballooned but it was not full of hot air it was full of lead. It was a done deal Lucille 

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3 hours ago, halloween said:

ade it even more surreal. was a 5 min install.  i love the prepper aspect of being off grid as well. i am now saving my power bills on my main house to see how much power i use to take the leap into paying about 10 000$ to go full solar. my friend did it in oz 3 years ago and now pays almost no electricity bill.

Just how high are the government subsidies in NZ? I dont just mean subsidies in the capital costs of solar panels etc but in terms of the rebates paid to return small quantities back to the grid?

 

 

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On 29/03/2017 at 5:17 PM, williamgeorgeallen said:

it requires a new fuse on the fusebox in the main house. might get away with doing a suspended cable and ducting to a new fusebox with 2 more breakers in the sleepout which is required as it it going for lights and outlets. if the ground has to be smashed up and the wire ducted underground it would be much more. 

the panel on the roof is far better than a cable hung across the gap.

Are you saying that your solar isn't fused? Because I would have thought that the fuse box would be necessary whichever way you sourced your energy.

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On 29/03/2017 at 8:11 PM, fantom said:

Just how high are the government subsidies in NZ? I dont just mean subsidies in the capital costs of solar panels etc but in terms of the rebates paid to return small quantities back to the grid?

 

 

To make solar attractive, most countries use a buy-back rate higher than the RETAIL price of energy. They then expect cheaper producers to reduce/stop their output during the daylight hours solar is available, but remain on hot standby to cover variations in output due to inclement weather.

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They have a nice installation at koh Larn in the shape of a sting ray. The intention was to use it as the power source for the whole island but it could not deliver enough power, so they got a cable from the mainland. Whole installation is abandoned now and the building is falling apart. A;so a lot of small wind mills there waiting to fall apart too.

 

If you have money to spend, there is a lot of choice of roof tiles with integrated solar panels. If you cover you whole roof power during daytime  will be more as sufficient. Finding the right person to talk to at the electricity company to get the list of approved power converters and get it hooked up to the main grid will be the biggest challenge. Battery packs to cover the night is not economically yet.

 

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On 3/29/2017 at 6:13 AM, leeneeds said:

Having solar on the roof with a 5 kva inverter, my power bill has been a constant 40 baht a month for years, the benefit of solar is well worth the out lay, Solar hot water / tank are still very hard to come by and more companies need to expand into this market, at the moment this type is still on the high price and only volume will bring the price down, 

advances in solar panels life and better generation of power have improved since I installed my 10 panels, so those who come after will get a better product,

Investing in solar by the government is minimal, the sun is there every day, coal and nuclear have too many by products as we all know, 

"Its too good to be true free power from the sun",  only trouble is the area that needs to used to generate the power needed, coal and nuclear take up minimal space and generate more usable power.  wind is a valuable source of  power but the true height needed to generate the same power out puts as coal and nuclear, means  they need to be built up in the jet stream, doing so is yet unattainable, but some sort of kite  device that has not been invented yet, (maybe),

 

Thorium testing is still going on and indications so far are no by product for use in power plants, 

investing in these companies may be a good thing , I will  keep looking and learning to what small part I can play in leaving a better place for my children.

 

Thanks for your report.

 

You mention that your bill is around 40 Baht per month; please share what lights, appliances etc., that covers? 

 

Also, from your observations:

 

- Is equipment and installation improving?

 

- Is equipment and installation cost going up, down a little / down a lot?

 

- Is local knowledge improving? 

 

Thanks again.

 

Edited by scorecard
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On 29/03/2017 at 6:13 AM, leeneeds said:

Having solar on the roof with a 5 kva inverter, my power bill has been a constant 40 baht a month for years, the benefit of solar is well worth the out lay, Solar hot water / tank are still very hard to come by and more companies need to expand into this market, at the moment this type is still on the high price and only volume will bring the price down, 

advances in solar panels life and better generation of power have improved since I installed my 10 panels, so those who come after will get a better product,

Investing in solar by the government is minimal, the sun is there every day, coal and nuclear have too many by products as we all know, 

"Its too good to be true free power from the sun",  only trouble is the area that needs to used to generate the power needed, coal and nuclear take up minimal space and generate more usable power.  wind is a valuable source of  power but the true height needed to generate the same power out puts as coal and nuclear, means  they need to be built up in the jet stream, doing so is yet unattainable, but some sort of kite  device that has not been invented yet, (maybe),

 

Thorium testing is still going on and indications so far are no by product for use in power plants, 

investing in these companies may be a good thing , I will  keep looking and learning to what small part I can play in leaving a better place for my children.

Buying a new house in the future. Would like to keep your contact n enquire where to get n cost. Can i pm u?

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6 hours ago, halloween said:

To make solar attractive, most countries use a buy-back rate higher than the RETAIL price of energy. They then expect cheaper producers to reduce/stop their output during the daylight hours solar is available, but remain on hot standby to cover variations in output due to inclement weather.

that does not sound right. to start with energy suppliers paid the retail price for energy fed back into the grid from a grid tied system. this has been falling over the years as there is no profit for them to buy and sell power at the same price. now they are increasing line charges for anyone feeding into the grid. i dont think there are any subsidies in nz or oz any more as solar is now efficient and cheap enough to be viable without being subsidized.

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