Residential FiT aims to make Thailand the ASEAN solar leader in 10 years

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A committee appointed by the government of Thailand to implement a series of wide-ranging political reforms claims that its proposed residential solar rooftop feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme will make Thailand the ASEAN region's solar leader within 10 years.

The National Reform Council (NRC), put together in September last year in the wake of long-running civil strife in the Southeast Asian country has already approved the plan, according to an official Thai government news outlet. The NRC is apparently “confident that the newly approved solar roof system will benefit the people and the nation as a whole”.

The National News Bureau of Thailand said that the chairman of the NRC’s committee on energy reform, Dr. Thongchat Hongladaromp, saw the rooftop FiT as a “quick reform plan”. By giving Thai citizens the ability freely trade, consume and generate electricity, it would “add a new dimension to the energy market,” the site’s report said.

The tariff plan will be put forward “within the month” for approval by the cabinet.

Details of the scheme, such as applicable rates and system sizes are yet to emerge, although Hongladaromp’s NRC colleague, Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who heads a sub-committee on renewable energy, gave some indication of the desired scale of the FiT’s rollout: over the next five years, the news bureau reported, the NRC wants to see residential FiTs applied to 500,000 homes.

Alongkorn Ponlaboot reportedly said the scheme would make Thailand the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region’s leader in solar power and a “green and sustainable country” in a decade’s time. After this 10-year point, it is hoped the scheme will be expanded to include solar power installations on state offices, schools and factory rooftops, then to other sectors.

In a December 2013 interview with PV Tech at the Solar Energy Southeast Asia conference and exhibition, Wandee Kunchornyakong, one of Thailand’s leading solar figures and a stalwart of the industry since 1981, talked up the potential for rooftop solar in Thailand. Kunchornyakong, who last month won a prestigious award from the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat for her work in the Thai large-scale solar market, said that this was partly due to time-of-use charges on electricity that meant peak prices are charged from 9am until 10pm.

At the 2014 edition of Solar Energy Southeast Asia, hosted by PV Tech’s publisher Solar Media in November, reporter Lucy Woods noted that a prominent member of the Thailand NRC had proposed new energy laws as a cornerstone of measures to prevent further civil unrest. Also at the event, the government announced a public hearing on the future of Thailand’s ground mount solar industry, which took place later that month.

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