PV Talk: Southeast Asia solar health check

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Tomorrow the two-day Solar Energy South East Asia event gets underway in Bangkok. On the eve of the conference, PV Tech spoke to IHS solar analyst, Josefin Berg, for her take on what can be expected over the next year in some of the region’s established and emerging solar markets.

Indonesia has been touted as one of Southeast Asia’s largest untapped solar markets. What is in store for the country?
Indonesia has started awarding projects under a 140MW tender scheme. The procedure is rather opaque, with a few short bid windows opened up throughout the year. Projects are in the range 1-5MW. We expect the market opportunity to be confined to these tenders over the next years. Small projects are also tendered to power parts of islands, but these are around 10kW. 

Another solar market that has begun to show signs of life is Myanmar. What can we expect to see here in 2015?
Myanmar doesn't have any policy in place, but private power generators can sign direct agreements with the government. So far, two project developers claim to be in the process of signing, for a total of 500MW. We don't expect anything to be built near term. Financing and grid infrastructure are critical issues. Other power producers already face major delays with their projects. 

How will Thailand look to retain its top spot in the market, as the Philippines and Myanmar develop competitive markets?
With around 1GW of PV installed and 2GW more targeted, Thailand is far ahead in terms of maturity and will keep the position over the next years. 

Thailand solar. Thailand has led the way in deploying solar in Southeast Asia, but other countries are following the lead. Image: Sonnedix

How will island nations and rural areas in Southeast Asia overcome grid constraints – could there be potential for hybrids and merchant solar power plants as seen in Chile?
We already see hybrid plants being developed, like the juwi project in the Philippines. Once there is a track record of such installations, we expect this segment to grow. One threat can be rural electrification programmes that expand the grid and render diesel generators unnecessary.

What will investors be looking out for in Southeast Asia?
Stable policy with secure revenues, and removed (or increased) caps on capacity. 

Singapore and Vietnam have relatively strong GDP for the region – could that mean solar begins to make more sense here as demand for power increases?
Singapore is already a quite active market for residential systems. But the relatively small power market limits major PV deployment. We see it as a stable market. Vietnam has not yet considered PV for power generation. 

What are your top three markets to watch for 2015 in South East Asia?

Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia. 

Further details on Solar Energy Southeast Asia, organised by PV Tech's published, Solar Media, are available here.

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