The Thai people and government have long been supportive of renewable energy and have been some of the earliest adopters of renewable technologies in Asia. Thailand currently imports about 50% of its bulk energy, often in the form of fossil fuels. Thailand is devoted to more sustainable and independent energy production and since 1992 has enacted programs to encourage renewable energies. Thailand’s current goal is to reach 20% renewables for electricity production by 2022. This could save $19 billion in energy imports annually, encourage $15 billion in private investment, avoid 76 million tons of CO2 released, create an estimated 40,000 jobs, and encourage economic development in rural regions.
The Thai government has used a variety of policy tools to increase renewable energy generation. In 1992 incentives began for small power providers (under 60 MW and later expanded to under 90 MW) that gave incentives to combined heat and power generators usually fulfilled with biofuels such as rice husks. Programs grew to include very small power producers (VSPP) with outputs under 10 MW, power purchase agreements, and feed-in-tariffs referred to by the Thai government as “adders” that required the purchase of renewably generated electricity at avoided-cost rates by utilities.
There are many challenges that have been overcome in the expansion of renewable energy in Thailand. Many challenges still remain as have been identified by the Thai government. But several aspects of Thai policy were deemed necessary for success in the past and future which include:
Thailand’s progress can be seen in its adoption rates. By 2013 it had developed 2.2 GW of renewable generation capacity and in 2010 received 2 GW worth of application which is four-times larger than was expected (500 MW). Thailand remains committed to renewable energy while protecting customer’s electricity prices and ensuring a balanced renewable energy portfolio for a more sustainable Thailand energy sector.