New figures reported by Reuters show that Thailand is set to increase its solar capacity to at least 1,200 MW this year, surpassing all of neighbouring Southeast Asia.
Image by Asian Development Bank (some rights reserved)
Reuters is reporting, based on figures provided by the Federation of Thai Industries renewable energy division, that solar power investment is set to exceed $2 billion in 2015, installing at least 1,200 MW worth of new solar capacity by the end of the year, and outperform all neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia.
In an effort to move away from reliance upon natural gas — a natural resource that is currently expected to run out within the decade — and avoiding having to rely on expensive imported fuels, Thailand is doubling down on its renewable energy industry. According to Pichai Tinsuntisook, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries’ renewable energy division, between 1,200 and 1,500 MW of solar capacity is expected to be connected to the Thai grid this year, requiring an investment of as much as $2.7 billion.
In fact, this increase will bring Thailand’s cumulative capacity up to between 2,500 and 2,800 MW by the end of the year, thanks to an increase of more than 6 times seen in 2014, which sat at only 1,300 MW.
Thailand’s growing interest in renewable energy has also been noticed by others outside of the country. Recent research done by The Pew Charitable Trusts found that “clean energy investment in developing countries has grown in real and relative terms.” The analysis also identifies the top 10 most attractive emerging markets for clean energy: “Thailand was the leader, attracting $5.6 billion over the five-year period [of 2009-13].”
Unsurprisingly, as Thailand’s capacity has grown through 2014 and is expected to grow even further by the end of this year, Thailand will continue to be a renewable energy leader both regionally as well as across numerous developing nations.
This is backed up by recent announcements from major solar manufacturers who are intending to develop large manufacturing units. In May, Trina Solar announced that it would be developing a 500 MW solar module manufacturing unit in Thailand, which was followed a few days later by an announcement from Gintech Energy, which announced that it would be developing a 350 MW solar cell production unit in Thailand.
Reuters quoted Sopon Asawanuchit, managing director of advisory firm Confidante Capital, as saying that, “Thailand has strong potential for both solar farms and rooftop solar systems,” and given the strong interest from investors both in and outside of Thailand, this can only be seen as something of an understatement.