Govt may shun solar plants
The Energy Ministry might focus less on solar power plants because of their high cost, which could strain household budgets.
Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal said recently that he would focus more on Napier grass instead.
The ministry is drawing up a plan to promote production of 10 gigawatts within 10 years from the grass for submission to the Energy Policy Administration Committee soon.
The adder for the first round of solar plants is Bt8 per unit and Bt6.50 for the second round. That is on top of the base rate paid by the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) of Bt3 per unit.
Pongsak views the high cost as possibly a big burden on consumers.
A ministry source said the ministry had advised the PEA to consider cancelling the contracts of projects with low viability as part of the state enterprise's target to source 2GW from solar farms.
The PEA has already signed power purchase agreements for 2GW but only projects for 1.2GW show progress in development. Of the remaining 800 megawatts, 500 companies have proposed to employ expensive thermal solar technology.
Recently they asked for the ministry's permission to change to lower-cost technologies but the ministry declined. Most operators are required to start feeding the electricity grid next year.
The ministry has reached a preliminary conclusion after a public hearing last year of a combined feed-in and base sales rate of Bt5.12 per unit for solar power. The private plant operators have opposed the plan as they stand to lose revenue.
The feed-in tariff will replace the adder rate for electricity produced by any alternative energy source.