January 16, 2014 00:00 By WATCHARAPONG THONGRUNG
THE PROLONGED political impasse has forced installers of rooftop solar-cell panels to adjust their plans for commercial distribution of electricity pending approval of the new cabinet to be formed after the next general election.
Dusit Krue-ngarm, president of the Thai Photovoltaic Industries Association and managing director of Thai Solar Future Co, said the association would meet with member solar-panel installers next Wednesday to evaluate the impact of the political situation and discuss measures to deal with it. A crucial issue is the delayed availability of the Ror Ngor 4 factory permits needed to install the rooftop solar panels because of the dissolution of Parliament.
Cabinet approval was originally expected to allow commercial distribution of electricity generated under the rooftop-solar programme by December 31, 2013. Even with the extension of the installation commencement date to January 31, it is unlikely that the installers can proceed as they lack cabinet-approved Ror Ngor 4 permits that were to be issued by the Industry Ministry.
Under the programme, only buildings in industrial estate zones can participate without a factory permit. That means that more than 80 per cent of the buildings that applied for participation – those outside industrial estates – cannot proceed with installation of the solar cells. Furthermore, Civil Works Department permits for modifications on buildings to accommodate rooftop solar panels can also not proceed, Dusit said.
Some applicants have decided to terminate their contracts for rooftop solar-cell installation.
A total of 7,521 (6,040 residential homes, 1,481 commercial buildings or factories) applicants for the rooftop solar programme have been selected by the Provincial Electricity Authority and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority. This would be enough to generate about 500 megawatts to sell into the national power grid, well above the government’s 100MW target. However, private households applying for the scheme would generate only 52MW, below the 100MW target.
To increase the number of residential rooftop solar panels under the programme, housing-estate developers will be asked to consider joining the project.