Thailand's Path to Green and Clean – part 1

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Background

The Kingdom of Thailand is located in Southeast Asia. It is home to 69 million people in an area of 513,000 square kilometers adjacent to Laos in the east, Myanmar in the northwest, Malaysia, and Cambodia in the south. This makes it an important passage for the long-distance transmission of electricity. In recent decades, Thailand has made noticeable progress on many fronts, especially in economic growth, including industrial and commercial sectors that have rapidly evolved into major contributors to growth in the gross domestic product (GDP).

Electricity Market Structure

Thailand is facing a rise in energy demand by almost 80% in the next two decades, driven by continued economic growth, an increasing population, and an ever-improving standard of living. Its energy consumption has grown at an average rate of 3.3% from 2007–2017. According to the Ministry of Energy, the country’s primary energy consumption was 133 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2018. Dependency on imports has driven Thailand to explicitly set energy security as its top policy objective, followed by economic affordability and environmental sustainability. The government’s strong support towards renewable energy is seeking to deliver increased power sector investment to meet rising electricity demand in the country.

As guided by the current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha “Stability, Prosperity, and Sustainability” is the five-year vision that Thailand is carrying out from 2015 to 2020. Thailand Integrated Energy Blueprint (TIEB) was put into action in response to the continuous growth in energy demand while depleting domestic reserves of energy resources in Thailand, spanning 2015-2036. This plan is supported by five separate but interrelated energy plans covering energy efficiency, conventional power (PDP), renewables (AEDP), biofuels (AEDP), oil & gas. 

Energy Supply Mix

Thailand Integrated Energy Blueprint (TIEB) 2015-2036

Thailand’s current renewable energy covers around 10 percent (45,000 MW. As of April 2018) of Thailand’s total energy consumption. The rest is mainly covered by fossil fuels, the primary source of energy is domestic and imported natural gas, creating the issue of energy security. Therefore implementing TIEB is responsible for the energy diversification which prime goal is to ensure a sustainable supply of energy in Thailand. The Thai government has also decided to raise its non-hydro renewable target even further from 20 percent to 30 percent by 2036. Over the past decade, Thailand’s total installed solar PV generating capacity has increased significantly, with the capacity last year being around 3,300 MW. In contrast, Thailand’s wind capacity was a modest 600 MW+, which is a fifth of its 2036 target of 3,000 MW in total.

Ambitious Goals

Power sector capacity development, 2015-2036

In response to rising energy demand, on August 15th 2014, the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC) approved the Thailand Power Development Plan 2015-2036 (PDP2015) to increase and diversify its use of renewables. This plan involved establishing a target of 19684 MW installed renewable energy, whereby it would consist of 30% of the country’s total energy consumption by the year 2036. The plan can be revised every five years as changes and technological trends occur in the power sector.

After three years of revision, on January 24th 2018, Thailand unveiled its updated more aggressive power development plan (PDP 2018–2037), increasing the ratio of electricity generation from renewable energy sources to 29,358 megawatts by 2037, which explicitly shows the country’s ambition to embrace renewable energy even further.


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