Egat to run solar power trade test

Egat to run solar power trade test

The state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) has initiated a test of peer-to-peer power trade from solar rooftops, planning to enter the prosumer trade in the coming years.

Governor Viboon Rerksirathai said Egat installed solar panels on top of its headquarters in Nonthaburi to conduct the test and collect power trade data.

The power trade business is limited under an enhanced single buyer (ESB) concept. Egat is the sole power buyer from private power producers for power generation projects of over 10 megawatts.

Two state-run agencies -- the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority -- oversee the purchase of electricity from projects of less than 10MW.

Private power purchase agreements are limited to industrial estates.

Mr Viboon said the current test is in line with the sandbox programme from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). The scheme allows all applications to facilitate a sandbox in energy technologies, including the prosumer concept.

"This should be a turning point for Egat in working with disruptive technologies," he said. "Egat needs to study the feasibility and design a business model for a further expansion in the long run."

Mr Viboon said the tentative business model is installation and operation of solar rooftops for commercial buildings and households.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the ministry plans to waive the limitation in power trade because the ERC has received many requests from companies and state agencies to test the prosumer business, but approvals have been delayed.

"Laws limit peer-to-peer power trade, while the ESB concept is allowed, but Thailand cannot rely on ESB alone for electricity trade," Mr Sontirat said. "The power sector needs to adopt new technologies. The limitations need to be waived to facilitate requests."

He said prosumer power trade benefits all levels, especially the grassroots sector.

Other renewable resources such as crop waste should be promoted as well, Mr Sontirat said.

"The prosumer concept is the other option to share benefits with local communities," he said.

James Rama Phataminviphas, chief executive of Banpu Infinergy Co, said the company is waiting for clearer directions from the government and agrees with the limitation waiver to allow the prosumer power trade.

"We are negotiating with property developers and industrial estates to install solar rooftops to prepare for peer-to-peer power trade," he said.

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