Thailand Solar farms plead for time

Construction News

Solar farm investors have agreed to amended conditions for licence holders, but they are asking for an extension to the end of 2016 to develop their projects.

The Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency Department discussed terms on Thursday with 178 applicants that hold a combined capacity of 1,073 megawatts but are unable to start construction and begin operations by 2015.

Director-general Thammayot Srichuai said those who failed to start operating their farms would need to accept a reduction in incentives from an adder tariff of 6.50 baht per kilowatt-hour to a feed-in tariff of 5.66 baht.

Since 2010, the Energy Ministry has granted licences for more than 2,000 MW of output.

Operators were eligible for an adder tariff in the first 10 years of solar farm operations, and those who have begun construction or operations still are.

For the unready 1,073 MW, the Energy Ministry is offering a feed-in tariff for a period of 25 years instead of an adder tariff for 10 years.

But Mr Thammayot said only 800 MW out of the 1,073 MW would be able to develop and operate, as some of the projects are in areas that cannot link with state transmission lines and others are probably short of financial support.

Paul-Dominique Vacharasinthu, chief executive of SPP 6 Co, said his company remained interested in the project even with a feed-in tariff.

“The cost of solar panel investment has gradually declined, so it would be viable to invest,” he said.

SPP 6 applied for a licence in 2010 for 41 MW and prepared land in Lop Buri for the project.

Mr Paul-Dominique said the deadline for starting up solar farms should be extended to the end of 2016 due to the time it took to design, develop and operate solar farms.

Dr Supot Sumritvanitcha, chief executive of Yanhee Solar Power, a unit of Yanhee Hospital Co, also agreed with the new conditions, noting that development costs were falling.

“The new conditions remain attractive for investment, although the adder tariff will be changed to a feed-in tariff,” he said.

Dr Supot said the development cost for a solar farm had dipped to 60-70 million baht per MW from 120 million in 2009.

Yanhee plans a combined 61 MW in Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya and Suphan Buri provinces.