Solar power plan burns bright with overwhelming response

Construction News

MORE THAN 1,000 government units and agricultural cooperatives nationwide are expected to take part in a public-sector solar energy programme in partnership with private interests who will invest an estimated Bt36 billion in total power-generation capacity of 600 megawatts, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission.

ERC spokesman Weerapol Jirapraditkul said qualified public-sector entities, including farm cooperatives, were invited to submit applications to the commission until November 10.

Successful applicants will be required to supply electricity from solar farms situated on their properties by September next year.

Overall, the public-sector programme is aimed at generating a total of 800MW of electricity from solar, with the first phase consisting of 600MW.

Weerapol said applications were expected to total more than 5,000MW from more than 1,000 public-sector units, but only 600MW will be selected by the ERC for implementation, requiring a combined investment of around Bt36 billion.

The public-sector solar energy programme will help boost the investment sector and contribute to next year’s economic growth, he said, adding that the programme serves as a good example of public-private-sector cooperation in the energy sector, since solar energy is renewable and friendly to the environment.

In addition, such an alternative source of electricity will increase the country’s energy security while reducing dependence on imported oil and gas.

Government units that take part in this programme will also have an additional source of income to pay for the benefits of their employees. For agricultural cooperatives, the programme will provide more financial resources that will benefit farmers who are members of the co-ops. Under this programme, participating public-sector agencies will provide suitable places for installing solar panels and equipment to generate, store and transmit electricity for sale at favourable prices to the power grid in their respective areas.

Of the first phase of 600MW, government units will be allocated a quota of 300MW, while farm cooperatives will be given another 300MW quota.

The Metropolitan Electricity Authority will buy 200MW of the electricity while the Provincial Electricity Authority will buy another 389MW, so the proposed solar farms have to be situated in the areas under the MEA’s and PEA’s jurisdictions.

In addition, the Navy’s welfare unit will buy another 11MW.

Weerapol said the ERC would announce the names of applicants qualified to participate in this solar programme on December 11, after which the shortlisted applications will be selected by a raffle on December 15.

Winners will be announced on December 24.