19 solar farm licences revoked

19 solar farm licences revoked

Deadline enforced to combat speculation

A technician checks out a solar array installed in Samut Prakan. Up to 19 solar farm licences have been revoked after operators failed to start commercial operations as scheduled. Some licence holders had done nothing to begin preparing their solar farms in the run-up to a June deadline. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
A technician checks out a solar array installed in Samut Prakan. Up to 19 solar farm licences have been revoked after operators failed to start commercial operations as scheduled. Some licence holders had done nothing to begin preparing their solar farms in the run-up to a June deadline. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has revoked the solar farm development licences of 19 holders who failed to start operations by June 2016.

The ERC said it had initially granted licences to a total of 96 firms in 2010 without setting a deadline for beginning operations, but the military government decided to set the June 2016 deadline last December.

The deadline was set after it was found that only 1,000 megawatts -- half the capacity allowed under the total licences granted since 2010 -- was being generated. The rest of the solar farm licences were assumed to have been taken for speculative, and not investment purposes.

The government, however, pushed up the deadline to the end of June this year as some operations had been delayed by uncontrollable factors, such as a lack of transmission lines and the confusing city planning in some provinces.

Veeraphol Jirapraditkul, ERC commissioner, said the revoked licences had a combined capacity of 60MW out of the almost 2,000MW of licences granted in 2010.

Mr Veeraphol said before revoking the licences, the commissioners checked to see how much progress the licence holders had made on their solar farm operations. Those who had shown no progress saw their licences revoked.

"Some licence holders had not even done anything to prepare land, which is the initial stage of development.

"Hence it was not possible that they would have been able to start operations by June," said Mr Veeraphol.

Those who acquired solar farm licences in 2010 were granted a power selling rate of 5.66 baht per unit under 25 years operating contracts with state utilities.

The slightly smaller solar farm development capacity is not expected to affect the total power supply in the country.

He added that deadlines would have to be set for other rounds of development for renewable energy licences holders.

Meanwhile, the ERC has another solar rooftop scheme which granted total capacity of 200MW to developers in 2013.

"We have been continually monitoring the project and have found that 160MW has been developed on schedule," said Mr Veeraphol.

The ERC also plans to offer 119MW for agricultural co-operatives and 400MW to state agencies during a second round of solar farm licence granting next year.

The ERC estimated that 26 billion baht in investment would be required.

As of April, 9,000MW of renewable energy was generated in Thailand. Of the total, 3,024MW came from solar farms.

Under the national alternative energy development plan for 2015-36, Thailand will generate 19,600MW of renewable energy in 2016, around 6,000MW of which will be solar power.

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