Thai government may purchase rooftop PV to fill commercial shortfall

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Thailand’s energy minister, Pongsak Ruktapongpisal, has warned that the government’s power production quota for solar power might have to be met by residential rooftop suppliers if the country’s commercial developers do not get their solar farms online within the required time frame.

Under the current arrangement, Thailand’s government has pledged to purchase 2,000 MW of PV from solar farms by December.

Yet Ruktapongpisal fears that some of the operators who signed a deal to sell power to the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) will not have their plants ready in time to begin commercial operations before the end of the year.

Failure to do so would represent a breach of contract, and will likely lead to a termination of the agreement with PEA.

In anticipation of this solar shortfall, the energy minister may look to rooftop PV as the solution. When the government signed the 2,000 MW deal, rooftop PV’s share of the quota was set at just 100 MW. However, rooftop installations have since reached 600 MW, with the minister also confident that rooftop solar could be brought online at a lower cost than traditional solar farms.

Thailand’s FIT rate – eligible for all rooftop systems – is cheaper than the fuel tariff set for solar farms. "We will have to wait until the end of the year to obtain accurate information on the number of solar farm contracts that will be terminated," said Ruktapongpisal. "Then we will consider replacing these contracts with rooftop producers."

As of August, solar farm developers had signed powe-sale contracts amounting to 1,444 MW with the PEA, revealed official ministry sources. However, just 592 MW have so far been made commercially available.