Minister seeks solar rooftop revisions

Minister seeks solar rooftop revisions

More households urged to join scheme

Solar rooftop panels at Banpu Plc in Bangkok. The government wants to encourage more household rooftop panels.
Solar rooftop panels at Banpu Plc in Bangkok. The government wants to encourage more household rooftop panels.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong has demanded a revision of conditions for the solar rooftop project within two months to encourage more households to produce and sell power to the state grid.

He gave the order on Monday after discussing obstacles to the project, especially the unattractive sale prices of photovoltaic (PV) electricity, with former Bangkok senator and outspoken activist Rosana Tositrakul, who leads energy advocacy group Thai Energy Reform.

Thailand has allowed people to jointly generate electricity from solar energy since 2013, but there was little interest. The main problem is the power tariff included in the price is not high enough, said Mr Sontirat.

He said the project aims to produce 50 megawatts of electricity per year over the next five years.

The government earlier reduced its plan for maximum capacity of 100MW to 50MW over the long term, but has seen only a small group of people offering to produce a combined 1.8MW.

Mr Sontirat stressed the need to adjust conditions, making the project more attractive to households. He wants energy officials to jointly talk with Thai Energy Reform and come up with a better version by August.

According to the ministry, people who join the project are allowed to produce electricity for daily use and can sell the rest to the state grid at 1.68 baht per kilowatt-hour (unit).

It is not just the price that is a problem, Ms Rosana said, urging officials to deal with tax issues and find a better way to support people who want to join the project. She suggested the ministry use a "net metering system", which is designed to facilitate electricity sales with the government.

Some 95% of Thailand's solar energy is produced from ground-based solar farms. Solar panels installed on house roofs for consumption and sale are widely popular in Bangkok, as well as various production plants in the Eastern Economic Corridor, but they have found the electricity price is too low, said Ms Rosana.

The solar PV project for households aligns with the national power development plan (PDP) from 2018 to 2037. Under the PDP, solar power is projected to reach 12,725MW by 2037.


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