Thai energy policy comes in to criticism by Green Peace

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Thai energy policy comes in to criticism by Green Peace

Chariya said Vietnam has made the greatest progress in the development of solar and wind energy

By The Nation

Thailand’s energy policy has failed to develop solar and wind energy, making Vietnam a hub for foreign investment, employment and production, with these helping reduce the impact on that country’s economy from the Covid-19 crisis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia said in its Southeast Asia Power Sector Scorecard report.

“It is still a myth [here] that renewable energy is a supplement to coal power generation,” said Chariya Senpong, head of the Greenpeace Thailand Energy Transition Campaign.

“Thailand’s power development plan supports both fossil fuels and renewable energy, but when considering the budget, we can see where the money goes,” she said.

The energy sector assessment uses the UN International Panel on Climate Change’s projection of greenhouse gas reductions to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and compares renewable energy schemes according to plans under the best circumstances in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Indicators of energy transition could be assessed from the divestment of fossil fuels, solar and wind market development, various support policies, and energy price management.

Chariya said Vietnam has made the greatest progress in the development of solar and wind energy. “Feed-in-tariffs” have increased Vietnam’s solar power generation capacity from 134 megawatts in 2018 to 5,500 MW by the end of 2019, with some projects seeing no fossil fuel costs. Therefore, that country is not affected by the fluctuation of fossil fuel prices that are impacting many countries in this Covid-19 situation, she added.

The results of this study also show solar power generates three times as many jobs as coal across the value chain.

An analysis of the Thai energy market reveals that the country’s energy policy actually hinders new investment in renewable energy, she said.

In 2015 and 2016, the government postponed solar and wind farm projects to generate electricity. The immediate policy change reduced the motivation of project developers and investors. As a result, the Thai energy market does not attract foreign investors, while the renewable energy policy, including measures to promote electricity purchase from renewable energy, auction of community power plant projects, pricing mechanisms and quotas are also inconsistent and not transparent.

The “baseload is one of the myths” the Electricity Generating Authority uses as an excuse for systematic investment in coal and natural gas, Chariya claimed. Analyses show that Thailand’s major power plants are “overflowing”.

Thailand has high long-term goals but no short-term steps to achieve renewable-energy goals, she said. It needs to increase its renewable energy target to 50 per cent by 2030, just like Vietnam.

“Now in 2020, we shouldn’t have any more excuses for no new power purchase agreements or no supporting policy for solar and wind power,” Chariya concluded.