April 26, 2016 / 11:25 AM / 4 years ago

Thailand expects new solar farms to generate $512 mln investment

BANGKOK, April 26 (Reuters) - Thailand’s latest solar energy project is expected to spur investment of around 18 billion baht ($512 million) this year, which should help support the slowing economy, the country’s energy regulator said on Tuesday.

Some 67 farm cooperatives along with several listed companies won the right to sell a combined 281.32 megawatts (MW) of solar power to the national grid last week.

The move, after a delay of almost a year, is seen as crucial step for Thailand to go ahead with other renewable energy sources such as biomass in southern Thailand, analysts said.

Among the winners are Global Power Synergy Pcl, Superblock Pcl, Bangchak Petroleum Pcl and Solartron Pcl.

They are required to sign power purchase contracts with state electricity agencies within 120 days and start operations by Dec 31, 2016, Viraphol Jirapraditkul, director and spokesman for the Energy Regulatory Commission, said in a statement.

The 25-year contract offers feed in tariff rate at 5.66 baht per unit, while companies will share revenue with the cooperatives, the regulator said.

The project is part of the government’s drive to raise solar power capacity to 6,000 MW by 2036 from 2,768 MW in January.

Thailand uses natural gas for 65 percent of its power generation, but wants to reduce its dependence to 40 percent over the next two decades and focus more on renewable power.

The government aims to increase renewable capacity to 19,635 MW by 2036, up 20 percent from a previous target, with solar energy making up 31 percent, according to the energy ministry’s latest power development plan. ($1 = 35.1600 baht) (Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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