Pioneering renewable energy options: Thailand takes up the challenge

Following reading and interesting CDKN (Climate and Development Knowledge Network) brief on Thai energy policy, here are a few key extracts from the document.

Setting up the right environment in terms of policy and regulation can be a real accelerator for renewables energy and energy efficiency. Thailand is taking the right measures to ensure sustainable growth and to increase energy access.

The current situation in Thailand summed up:

  • Thailand is dependent on energy imports
  • Thailand needs to provide for the growing electricity needs of its citizens and its economy
  • Thailand recognizes the need to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
    • RE sources can be an important part of the answer to these challenges. Resource assessments show a large potential for a number of RE technologies. This is why the Thai government has set up a 15-year Renewable Energy Development Plan (2008–2022), setting a target of achieving 20% of RE in the final energy consumption.

photovoltaic.gifThese support policies have allowed individual small projects to add up to something substantial, attracting more investment and leading to faster growth in the sector than in most other Asian nations. But it also has to be said that development of RE has not been without controversy – the Thai energy system is complex and so is the Thai energy policy. The CDKN brief focuses on identifying factors that can explain the relative success of Thai policies and highlights some lessons for future development.

Key messages

  • Thailand was among the first countries in Asia to introduce incentive policies for the generation of electricity from renewable energy (RE) sources, leading to rapid growth, particularly in solar power.
  • Programmes for small and very small power producers created predictable conditions for RE investors to sell electricity to the grid. The ‘Adder’, a feed-in-premium, guarantees higher rates for RE, making the investments profitable. Thailand also regularly updates technical regulations, provides preferential financing, and invests in research and training.
  • Civil society involvement strengthened and improved RE policies. In Thailand, outside expertise and links to international networks brought by civil society experts were crucial for the design and approval of the incentive measures.

The Thai government is now adapting its policies to take account of recent technological progress and market growth. It is considering a sophisticated feed-in tariff to better control costs, while continuing to offer an enabling environment for RE investments.

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