Solar market projected to be radiant

Construction News
A worker installs solar panels in Samut Prakan province.
A worker installs solar panels in Samut Prakan province.

Thailand will remain a notable solar outperformer in Southeast Asia over the next 10 years, BMI Research has projected.

The country’s solar capacity will total 3.7 gigawatts by 2025, largely because of the government’s support programme, as Chinese solar companies look for opportunities in Thailand, said BMI.

However, the lack of additional procurement plans from the government is expected to curb future growth in the long term.

BMI said Thailand emerged as a key solar market in the region with total solar power generating capacity expected to reach 2.6GW by the end of this year. That would be double its 1.3GW total from 2014, as Thailand’s solar capacity would dwarf all other countries in the region.

“We expect Thailand to remain a notable solar outperformer in Southeast Asia over our 10-year forecast, with solar capacity totalling 3.7GW by 2025 as investors continue to view it as an attractive solar market,” said BMI.

The researcher said the substantial rise in Thailand’s solar capacity was due to an attractive power development plan with ambitious renewable energy targets and a supportive policy to encourage investors.

The policy is part of the Thai government’s plan to diversify the country’s power mix away from a reliance on gas, which makes up 70% of power generation, incorporating alternatives such as nuclear, coal and imported energy.

Thailand aims to have 6GW of installed solar capacity by 2036 and has adopted a feed-in tariff (FiT) programme to incentivise companies to develop capacity to meet the target.

The government also initiated a procurement programme for solar development, with initial capacity awarded starting to go online.
The build-up of local manufacturing capacity over the last year, especially from Chinese manufacturers, has ensured that local panels are readily available for developers without shipping.

Chinese solar manufacturers have increasingly targeted Thailand as they look to offset the overcapacity in their domestic market and seek alternative growth opportunities.

The Chinese renewable power market has reached the saturation point, said BMI.

Several Chinese solar firms are looking to set up module production facilities in Thailand, including Zhongli Talesun Solar, Symbior Solar, Suntech Power and Yingli Green Energy. Trina Solar, a major producer, opened a photovoltaic module factory in Rayong province in late March.