Image credit: IFC Infrastructure, used under Creative Commons license.
Whether it's Israel's efforts to harness solar, gigantic French solar farms, a 2-mile-long solar train tunnel in Belgium, or tantalizing signs that Australia may finally get serious about solar, the Global race to build viable, utility-scale solar power plants is most definitely on. Thailand has already made a significant impact on this trend, with ambitious targets to produce 500MW of solar power (and source 20% of its energy consumption from renewables) by 2022. With investors pouring in for early projects, the country's Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency is considering doubling that target to 1GW. Whether or not the target will be doubled depends, as so often around the world, on elections and politics. But RECHARGE reports that the early success of Thai solar efforts is leading many advocates to push for more:
In late 2007 it launched generous solar feed-in tariffs designed to help meet the goal, prompting a surge in interest that means the target is already oversubscribed.
"We have already received applications to build 3,358MW of solar projects," says Twarath Sutabutr, deputy director-general at the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), part of Thailand's Ministry of Energy.
Some of the numbers in the RECHARGE piece are a little unclear (at one point the author states there are 2GW of solar projects awaiting grid connection already...), it is clear that Thailand is set to be a major player in the emerging world of serious, grown up solar power. Other countries would do well to take note.
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