Thai solar market on course to grow by around 1 GW in 2015

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Thailand’s solar industry is to be the beneficiary of more than $2.5 billion in investment this year – a figure that will help the country install more solar PV capacity than the rest of Southeast Asia combined.

That is the view of leading figures in Thailand’s renewable energy industry, reports Reuters, which quotes the chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries’ renewable energy division, Pichai Tinsuntisook, as stating that as much as 1.2 to 1.5 GW of solar PV capacity will be connected to the grid this year.

That figure is a little higher than the 700 MW to 1 GW of solar PV capacity that IHS is forecast, but either range represents healthy growth for the country.

"Our most recent assessment from May is that Thailand could install as much as 1 GW of solar PV this year," Josefin Berg, senior solar analyst at IHS, told pv magazine. "Previously halted projects have obtained new PPAs and there is quite some activity. We are now revising the numbers slightly after talking to local sources, but it should be in the range of 700 MW to 1 GW this year."

In an interview with Reuters, Tinsuntisook said that to add 1.2 to 1.5 GW, an investment of around 90 billion baht ($2.7 billion) would be required, and the country could be on course to end 2015 with more than 2.5 GW of cumulative capacity – almost doubling its solar footprint in the space of one year and a six-fold increase on 2014’s installation figure.

"Thailand has strong potential for both solar farms and rooftop solar systems," Confidante Capital’s Sopon Asawanuchit told Reuters. Analysts working within the industry estimate that around 250,000 new rooftop solar PV systems could be added over the next five years, helping the country reach its goal of hitting 6 GW of solar PV capacity by 2036 – which appears to be a rather modest target given this year’s progress.

Nevertheless, Thailand is leading the region in terms of solar investment and support, with the Thai government backing a 25-year FIT at a rate of $0.2/kWh, which has helped attract foreign investment into the country.

"Thailand will be the largest market in the region in 2015," confirmed Berg.