State agencies get B4bn in solar panel assistance

State agencies get B4bn in solar panel assistance

The Energy Conservation Fund (ECF) will provide financial support of nearly 4 billion baht for state agencies to install solar modules on their rooftops.

The budget approval, made two weeks ago by the Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency Department, which oversees the fund, is aimed at promoting energy saving and renewable energy.

It is also a part of government efforts to raise renewable energy consumption to 25% of the total by 2021 from 12% now.

Twarath Sutabutr, the department's deputy director-general, said installations will start next year for expected solar energy generation of 61 megawatts. Some 1.8 billion baht will be allocated to local administrative organisations.

The department is studying technical support for the scheme and expects to offer it next year.

Another 927 million baht will be given to 459 state~owned public hospitals and 1.09 billion to 350 state universities and vocational schools.

However, state agencies wanting a grant will not be entitled to join the Energy Ministry's very small power producer (VSPP) scheme, so they will produce electricity only for their own use.

Two months ago, the ministry announced it will award licences to VSPP scheme participants in the private sector generating a combined 200 MW. The scheme offers feed-in tariffs of 6.16 to 6.96 baht a kilowatt-hour when selling solar power to state utilities compared with the normal power tariff of 3.75 baht per kWh.

The Energy Regulatory Commission requires all solar rooftop projects to be up and running by Jan 31.

Thailand introduced its first solar farm in 2007 and has since granted dozens of licences for combined capacity exceeding 2,000 MW. But winning licence holders have only developed 150 MW.

The department expects another 100 MW will be up and running next year.

In a related development, Solartron Plc (SOLAR), a SET-listed solar module producer, announced yesterday the opening of its new 1.5-billion-baht factory in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong.

Executive chairman Patama Wongtoythong said the new factory, with annual capacity of 70 MW, will make it Thailand's first fully integrated solar cell developer, providing engineering, procurement and construction services. Solartron eyes revenue growth of 30% to 1.18 billion baht this year.

Shares of SOLAR closed yesterday on the SET at 5.55 baht, down five satang, in trade worth 8.68 million baht.

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