Trend of Solar Panels on the Roof Needs Govt To Cut Red Tape

Many families and businesses adopt solar panels on the roof as an alternative source of electricity to reduce their electricity bill, which rises sharply this summer.

According to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) office, between January and March 21, 2013, 1,020 people applied to participate in the public solar project, representing a total capacity of 5,492.38 kilowatts. The figure was almost equal to the total number of 1,287 applications in 2022, representing a total capacity of 7,195 kilowatts.

Phuwadon Suntornwipart, president of the Thai Photovoltaic Industries Association (TPVA), said the trend of rooftop solar panels “has increased sharply”. The market is also expected to be two to three times larger in 2023 than last year.

Phuwadon Suntornwipart, president of the Thai Photovoltaic Industries Association (TPVA)

He said that about two to three years ago, the public had little interest in solar as the Ft was in the negative, which made the electricity bill low and slowed down the return on investment in solar. However, as the government adjusts the electricity purchase price from 1 baht per unit in 2019 – 2021 to the current price of 2.20 baht per unit for the next 10 years, people’s interest is increasing.

Phuwadon added that the public solar project still has some obstacles, so the total number of participants is only 20 per cent of the total quota. He explained that the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) is working with the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) to allow each participant to generate 5 megawatts of electricity per site, but the current quota is only 1 megawatts.

The project is still accepting applications until the middle of this year. However, Phuwadon said he was confident the government would go ahead with the project, but the public would have to wait and see if the government would maintain the same purchase price of 2.20 baht per unit.

The president of TPVA said the two main obstacles to the growth of solar cells are 1. the high cost of initial investment and 2. light intensity, as houses in Bangkok cannot receive full shade.

He explained that Thailand is located above the equator. As the sun moves towards the south, a house with roofs that slope towards the south will receive the best sunlight, while roofs that slope towards the north will receive less sunlight. Roofs that slope west or east receive only half the day’s sunlight.

These factors result in the investor reaching the break-even point more slowly, from 4 years to 5 to 6 years. However, if you calculate the longevity of solar panels, which is 25 years, they are still profitable.

Phuwadon said TPVA hoped that the government would promote public solar projects like the tax rebate through the shopping project. He said the government should also give a tax rebate to the citizens who install solar panels as the public cannot get any benefit from installing the solar panels while the business sector can use installment for the tax rebates.

Kriengkrai Thiennukul, president of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the private sector is willing to install solar panels to generate clean energy. However, if they want to generate more than 1 megawatt of electricity, they must obtain a separate permit from the Ministry of Industry.

“I want the problem to be solved. An example: a plant consumes 10 megawatts of electricity but cannot produce more than 1 megawatts. Why don’t we allow them to generate 10 megawatts but only for use within the plant, not for sale and not for generating more?” said Kriengkrai.