Solar rooftop scheme falls short of goals

Oct 4, 2019 12:23 PM ET
The Energy Ministry plans to allocate 10,000 megawatts, currently allotted to the household solar rooftop scheme, to other renewable energy methods such as community waste as the solar panel scheme has received little participation from homeowners.

Permanent secretary Kulit Sombatsiri said the ministry is reframing the project as a community-owned power plant from renewable resources called the Energy for All project.

The ministry's steering committee stated it is more practical to trim down the 10,000MW target for rooftop solar power under the latest version of national power development plan 2018-37 and allocate some of the capacity towards Energy for All.

"But the ministry has yet to decide on a plan," said Mr Kulit.

Launched in May, the household solar rooftop scheme has 121 participants generating 685 kilowatts, far lower than the government's target of 100MW this year.

Mr Kulit said Energy for All will be a hybrid power scheme utilising both waste and solar resources.

"The ministry will consider raising the power tariff from 1.68 baht per kilowatt-hour [unit] for the household solar rooftop scheme," he said.

"The ministry will conduct public hearings for the scheme before the official launch in December."

Samerjai Suksumek, chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission, said the weak response to the household solar rooftop scheme was attributed to a misunderstanding among property owners that they have to sell electricity to the state grid.

The scheme allows property owners to generate power themselves and sell the surplus to the state grid.

He said the current power tariff of 1.68 baht per unit is not attractive enough to draw more participants, while the high cost of solar panels is another obstacle.

The household solar rooftop scheme is designed to grant licences for 100MW per year during 2019-27 for households, increasing solar power generation to 1,000MW per year from 2028 until 10,000MW is generated by 2037.

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