Thailand’s solar water heater subsidy programme, which started in 2008, will continue until 2021. The subsidy will gradually decrease from currently 25 per cent of the investment costs to 15 per cent in 2017.
The programme is part of Thailand’s revised Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP), which was presented by Kulwaree Buranasajjawaraporn, Director of the solar energy section’s Innovation Group at the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), during the Thai-German Technology Conference in Bangkok in October 2013.
According to the director, Thailand’s aim is to cover 25 per cent of the country’s energy demand by renewable energies until 2021 – including 100 ktoe (kilo tonnes of oil equivalent) of heat from solar thermal collectors.
The DEDE programme is only available for commercial hybrid systems, which combine a minimum of 40 m² of collector area per project with the use of waste heat from air conditioners, boilers, etc. (see the database of incentive programmes). In 2011 and 2012, the government subsidised a total of 21,034 m² of collector area. The budget in 2013 was extended to cover 25,000 m². DEDE, however, registered only 8,000 m² of newly installed collector area until October 2013.
“There were no more installed square metres till the end of the year, because the yearly budget for the programme ends in October,” Chavala Tangyopuwadol, Chairman of Thailand’s Solar Thermal Association and Managing Director of Forbest, one of the country’s distributors of hot water systems, explains. “The reason for last year’s small number was a lack of interest on the part of investors. Even so, the solar thermal system suppliers were busy on 40 projects for government hospitals in provincial areas.”
“I don’t believe that the low numbers were a direct result of the current turmoil in Thailand, but that the PV programme, which was announced in June and for which investors could obtain licenses beginning in October 2013, may have interfered with the demand for solar thermal,” Thomas Chrometzka, Director of Renewable Energy at the GIZ Thailand, explains.
“I see the usual suspect at work here: an attractive feed-in tariff makes the PV investment financially interesting for anyone, whereas a solar thermal plant requires thorough analysis, planning, and installation and, ultimately, maintenance. Many companies which offer solar thermal in Thailand also sell photovoltaic systems.”
“The Solar Water Heater Programme still needs qualified and experienced designers and installers to make the programme successful in the long term,” Buranasajjawaraporn stated in her presentation. “The best and most energy-efficient design and an apt installation of the solar hot water system will result in optimal system performance.”
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