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Smart grid policy advised for renewable energy progress
Regulatory support for a smart grid should be the next government's top priority for renewable energy policy, as finding funding sources for environmentally friendly projects is becoming easier in Thailand, says B.Grimm Power's president.
“I do not believe financing is our problem, as everyone wants to invest in renewables now," Preeyanart Soontornwata, president of the SET-listed private power producer and a subsidiary of Thailand's oldest industrial conglomerate, B.Grimm Group, told Bangkok Post.
“The costs for grids and raw materials are also becoming cheaper, but the problem is not everyone can huild a solar farm or a wind farm. They require a concession from the government, and Thailand has already limited these. “ Ms Pereeyanart Said.
Thailand has the highest solar and wind power output in Asean, thanks to adder and feed-in tariff (FIT) policies that provide incentives for renewable energy projects. In June 2018, the Energy Ministry announced that private buildings and households which were "accepted" by the programme would be able to sell surplus solar power to the state's utilities. The condition is that the FIT was set at up to 2.44 baht per kilowatt-hour.
For Thailand and its neighbours, finding financing is not a problem because of the concessions that we win from governments," Ms Preeyanart said. "In Vietnam, we had to use credit first because we had to construct too fast for the project to be financed, but once there were construction rigs, the banks were already waiting to provide the loans because there we have a concession."
Ms Preeyanart praised Thai regulators for maintaining a "good balance", because if the government did not limit incentives for solar there would be an avalanche of subsidies. This was the case in Spain and Germany, she said.
"As long as this is the situation, moving too fast wouldn't be good for us and our electricity prices would also become expensive, which is why the government has imposed limits," she said. "The good news is that we can develop an energy storage system ourselves, but in my opinion, for Thailand, it has to be the smart grid."
A smart grid is an electric network that uses the Internet of Things to let devices communicate between suppliers and consumers, allowing energy producers to manage demand and protect the distribution network. Experts believe that this would save energy and reduce costs at the same time.
"If we have combined-cycle power, energy storage will be easier to build and the government should support it because if there is a smart grid, the number of blowouts will drop because the main grid will have support," Ms Preeyanart said.