Difficulties Implementing Solar Policies

In my last article, I talked about the One Less Nuclear Power Plant policy in Seoul, South Korea. It went into great detail about the policy and its effects. This time, I will broaden the view and talk about how other countries are doing with energy policies and how effective they can actually be. This article will be centered on the difficulties encountered implementing solar policies in Thailand, India, and Germany.

Thailand is situated in a tropical climate with an abundance of sunlight of which could be used to generate energy. Over the past 20 years, Thailand’s energy demand has more than doubled, and is likely to do so again by 2030 if nothing is done about it (Leonard). It is expected to become a leader in solar photovoltaic markets in Southeast Asia despite the fact its troubles before. Back in 2008, Thailand had a generous feed-in tariff to stimulate investment in renewable power which resulted in a big rush for solar power generators. This led to more speculative projects rather than feasible projects. In response, the government shut down new solar projects in 2010. Critics claimed the country’s feed-in tariff and the government’s weak regulatory framework were inadequate for changing market conditions. Recently, the National Energy Policy Council approved several policies. In effort to take advantage of the sunlight potential, Thailand developed the Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP). The AEDP aims to reach 3000MW of solar power by the year 2021. They set up activities to reach this goal like promoting small scale solar energy system projects including solar PV rooftops for 1000MW, conduct efficiency standards of solar collector system, and adjust the Adder to be a feed in tariff system. In 2011, the Energy Efficiency Developmental Plan (EEDP) was established to make short term and long term energy conversation targets and to create strategies and guidelines. The major policy that is being used is the Power Development Plan (PDP) in Thailand. Its purpose was to combine the AEDP and the EEDP over the span from 2015–2036 to offer more detailed approach to integrated energy planning. However, the PDP is far from perfect. Energy analysts challenged the solutions of the PDP in detail. They claim outline the structural reforms that are required in the power sector be moved closer to the government’s policy objectives and the power planning must be improved. They also show options for least-cost measures that provide identical services, comfort, and convenience even if less electricity is sold. As you can see, Thailand has gone through numerous difficulties to develop an effective energy policy.

The second policy is located in India called the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The National Solar Mission was launched in 2010 by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The Mission has set a goal for 20,000MW of solar power connected to the grid by year 2022. The goal of the mission is to reducing the cost of solar power generation in the country by long term policy, large scale deployment goals, aggressive research and development, and a domestic production of critical goods. The Mission will be conducted in three phases. The first phase will focus on experimenting with incentive structures and obtaining investors, engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contractors, and equipment manufacturers. It hoped to install a combination of 700MW from grid-connected and off-grid solar PV. The goal of phase two is to build upon phase one by creating extensive capacity additions, greatly decreasing the cost per kilowatt-hour, and reach installation of 3,000–10,000MW of combined PV and concentrated solar power (CSP). During this phase, it will be required to use cells and modules created in India. By phase three, the Mission is expected to reach off-grid solar capacity of 2,000MW and 20,000MW on-grid by year 2022. The difficulty that happens with this policy is that the United States filed a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO) because it is restricts critical materials used to domestic content. The argument is focused on the second phase because it requires that solar components come from domestic sources, but the U.S. exports technologies to India. The U.S. spokesman claims that other countries have alleviated climate change without discriminating against imports. India argues has the right to foster its own manufacturing but the U.S. should not be tearing down other countries trying to do the same. They are currently at a standoff and will expect a final report by chair of the panel in late August 2015.

Germany is one of the leading producers in solar power generation with an installed capacity of 38,458MW. They have about 1.4 million PV systems throughout the country ranging from small rooftop systems to large solar parks. PV installations have been declining since their boom in 2011. About half of the jobs in the solar sectors have been lost. However, the government’s goal is to keep increasing renewables. Long-term minimum targets are 35% by 2020, 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 (Wikipedia). Germany may be a top producer of solar power, but they still have their flaws. Critics say the policy is bad for consumers and bad for the environment. Germany’s residential electricity cost is about $0.34/kWh, one of the highest rates in the world (Carlyle). More than 300,000 households per year lose their electricity because they cannot afford to pay the bill. The latest numbers show that Germany is actually increasing in carbon output and global warming impact. Without storage it turns out the more daytime solar capacity Germany creates, the more coal power they for nights when the renewable source shuts down. It would help to install more wind turbines to help generate power in the night and winter.

While renewable energy is a good thing, it can turn out to be a bad thing given the wrong conditions. It can be very difficult to create a policy that benefits everyone. This article displayed the difficulties encountered when implementing solar policies in Thailand, India, and Germany. Do not be so quick to assume that renewable energy policies will solve everything.

Works Cited

Carlyle, Ryan. “Should Other Nations Follow Germany’s Lead on Promoting Solar Power?”Quora. 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2015

Leonard, Rebeca, Jacques-chai Chomthongdi, and Faikham Harnnarong. “Thai Power Development Plan Is at Odds with Reality.” Focus on the Global South. 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

“Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.” Energypedia. 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <https://energypedia.info/wiki/Jawaharlal_Nehru_National_Solar_Mission>.

Martin, Sarah, and Davida Wood. “A Shared Vision for Thailand’s Solar Energy Development.” World Resources Institute. 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

Sheppard, Kate. “U.S. Tries To Stop India’s Solar Policy While Pushing Fight Against Climate Change.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com. Web. 19 Apr. 2015

“Solar Power in Germany.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Apr. 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2015.

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