By Wichit Chaitrong
As the slide in solar cell price continues with increasing numbers of businesses and households turning to solar energy, power supply and consumption will see a dramatic change.
Several manufacturers and retailers such as Tesco and BigC have deployed solar cell panels on their rooftops, said Prasit Siritiprussamee, director of engineering and regulatory department at the office of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Should storage technology progress, then it would disrupt the way we produce and trade electricity, he said at seminar recently hosted by the Economic Reporters Association.
Currently, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand(Egat) is the only buyer of power from large plants. However, in the near future, there would be multiple buyers while a large number of households will also become electricity producers, he said.
Blockchain technology will lead to a new system of electricity trading where peer to peer transaction is a possibility as opposed to producers selling only to Egat.
There are eight peer to peer energy trading projects being tested in sandbox experiment by the Energy Regulatory Commission. Small production has the advantage of staying closer to consumers, meaning that energy loss and energy transmission cost is lower.
“About 200 applicants filed for the sandbox experiment but only eight were accepted. We figured that the rest could learn from these pilot projects. Also, it would spare them the expenses involved in an experiment,” he said.
The new way of electricity production and trading have the potential to disrupt the existing system.
If more small producers join in, large electricity generating plants run by state enterprises would have to reduce production capacity which might affect their previous investments.
Those who still buy electricity from the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and Provincial Electricity Authority might have to shoulder higher cost of excessive investment in large electricity plants.
Prasit said that regulators must ensure a smooth transition to the scenario of multiple-producers and buyers of electricity. Asked about when the big change will happen, he replied that nobody know what would happen after the next three years,
Sathapon Patanakuha, CEO and founder of Smart Contract, said his company has been facilitating peer to peer energy trading among households and factories via blockchain technology. Home owners could sell and buy electricity produced by roof top solar panels among themselves.
Alternative energy, mainly solar energy, is estimated to account for 9 per cent of total supply in Thailand.
It remain a small proportion but growing fast, Sathapon said.
Meanwhile, Veerapol Chirapraditkul, director of the Energy Fund Administration Institute, said state enterprises must get a fare share from previous investment in electricity infrastructure because new producers will still depend on power lines and other facilities for energy trade.