Written By: Emma Websdale
Thailand’s goal of tripling its solar power capacity to 3,000 MW by 2021 moves closer as energy firms invest US$2 billion into the solar energy sector.
A dozen listed Thai companies, including Bangchak Petroleum Pcl and Utility Electricity Generating Pcl (EGCO), are investing up to $2 billion into combined solar projects over the next five years in order to drive profits and attract shareholders.
Alarmed by steep increases in the price of fossil fuel and their record high importation of oil, Thailand’s government – Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy – is currently buying electricity from solar power producers at prices twice as high as those charged by conventional power suppliers. The government hopes that policies to support the shift toward renewables will lead to lower costs in the long term
Analysts estimate that SPCG, Thailand’s biggest developer of solar farms, will make a net profit of 10 million Thai baht (US$319,400) per megawatt (MW) this year -at least four times higher than traditional power producers.
“Solar is hot”, says SPCG CEO Wandee Khunchornyakong, “It’s undeniable that everyone wants to enter this business.”
Furthermore, results published by Bangchak Petroleum this week have found that the solar industry was its fastest-growing segment in terms of profitability, accounting for 15% of its core quarterly profit.
Solar power currently ranks fifth in contributing to Thailand’s goal of securing one quarter of its energy mix from renewable energy sources by 2021.