Solar thermal heating is unlikely to gain widespread adoption if there is no strong advocacy group to promote the technology and its benefits, says the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE).
"At present the Solar Thermal Association is weak in comparison to the photovoltaic group, which is able to lobby the state for subsidies more effectively," said Kulwaree Buranasajjawaraporn, director of DEDE's solar innovation group.
The installation of solar thermal heating is more complicated than that of photovoltaic (PV), she said. Information is crucial if quality and consistency are to be maintained.
"The message about solar energy so far often refers to solar PV used in power generation, prompted by the government's PV rooftop licence programme," said Mrs Kulwaree.
Many businesses are switching from solar thermal to PV panels.
PV provides faster and tangible benefits through the government's power purchase, while solar thermal heating generates abstract benefits that pay for themselves over time.
While PV is widely used in power generation, solar thermal is used for heating and cooling. It is mainly found in hotels, in hospitals and at farms, places that require large amounts of hot water, and in industries such as automotive.
The two technologies are incompatible and require different types of solar panels. But solar thermal comes with a more efficient conversion rate than PV.
The current subsidy for solar thermal heating covers 25% of the cost for first-time installation, with a minimum size of four square metres for industrial use.
"The lack of an attractive subsidy for solar thermal heating in the household sector is due to the fact that the technology is more economical for industrial use, while those with solar installed are mainly high-income households," said Mrs Kulwaree.
About the author
- Writer: Nop Tephaval
Position: Business Reporter