Thailand is one of the countries with the fastest developing economies in the world. According to Bryman and Bell (2011, p. 74), the economy of this country has experienced massive growth from 1985 to 1996. Some of the leading industries in Thailand include agriculture, tourism, industrial sector, technology and mining among other sectors. This rapid economic development has increased energy demand within the country.
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The demand for energy, both for domestic consumption and industrial use, has been on the rise as the country becomes one of the regional economic powers. The country is not able to meet its energy demands from the local production because it is not rich in resources and reserves of fossil fuel. The country is forced to import energy in order to meet its local demands.
The country imports about 64% of the energy it uses in terms of natural gas, oil, and electricity from various countries in the region. According to the recent survey by Kalogirou (2006, p. 56), it was found that Thailand is spending over 12% of its Gross Domestic Product on importation of oil. This is always affected by the fluctuating prices of oil in the international market.
The country is still on its path towards greater economic success despite the recent political instability following the coup de tat. Heavy reliance on imported on may affect its ability to achieve economic success. The country needs alternative sources of oil that can help in reducing the heavy reliance on imported oil.
High dependence on electricity imports from Laos and natural gas imports from Myanmar has largely been considered as the main impediment to the growth of the country’s economy. The expanding middle class and the growth in population of major cities like Bangkok means that the demand for natural gas is on the rise.
The government, through the Ministry of Energy, announced its intention to find alternative sources of energy in order to reduce reliance on imported energy. Renewable energy has been considered to be the solution to the current energy problem in this country.
According to Andexer (2008, p. 31), the government of Thailand has made a commitment to increase renewable capacity target by 51 percent, from the current 9,201 MW to 13,927 MW by end of 2021. Through this initiative, 20% of the electricity consumed in the country will be produced from renewable sources.
According to Chiras (2011, p. 40), the target of this initiative consists of output from biomass to be 4,800 MW, solar 3,000 MW, biogas 3,600 MW, wind 1,800 MW. The hydropower and waste will also be expected to produce considerable amount of energy to the grid.
This is an ambitious project that is expected to transform the economy of this country by 2030. The government announced that this initiative will help in reducing the need for importation of energy by more than 75%. The renewable energy policies in this country were developed after an analysis of similar projects that have been done elsewhere, especially in Europe, the United States, and China.
According to Andexer (2008, p. 87), when formulating policies, it is important to note that there may be some challenges that may hinder the implementation of this ambitious policy. These policies were developed after analysing the process that has been taken by other countries. However, it is important to note that the environmental conditions in these foreign countries are not the same as what we have in the country.
There are some fundamental differences that should be put into consideration in order to determine how the local policies can be made unique to suite the local environmental forces. One such fundamental difference is technological advancement. Most of the countries that have made positive progress such as Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and China are more technologically advanced that Thailand.
Their economies are also stronger. This means that the challenges they may face in their renewable energy policies are different from that of Thailand. This means that it is necessary to conduct research to identify these local forces and incorporate them in the policies. This research will focus on the challenges encountered by renewable energy policies, with a special focus given to Thailand.
Thailand’s overreliance on imported energy has affected its economic growth in the recent past. The policy makers have conducted research, and have realised that lasting solution can only be found in the renewable energy. The government has rolled out ambitious plan on how to expand production of energy from renewable sources. This plan will help in reducing the overreliance on imported sources of energy.
The environmentalists have also complained that fossil fuel has serious negative consequences on the environment. Increasing the country’s production of renewable energy is necessary as a major step towards protecting our environment.
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This project is, therefore, not only important in increasing the country’s energy independence, but also in conservation of the environment. However, there are some challenges that may affect the ability of the country to achieve its targeted energy output.
Unless this problem is addressed within the shortest period possible, it may not be possible for the country to realise its target. In this study, the researcher seeks to identify these challenges, and how they can be addressed by various stakeholders.
Conducting research is a complex process and Bryman (2008, p. 45) says that it is important to ensure that the process achieves its intended target. In order to achieve success, it is important to set specific research objectives that will help in determining whether the intended goal has been achieved. The following are the specific research objectives that should be achieved in this study.
- Identify the challenges of the policies and other incentives that are being used to provide growth in the renewable energy market in Thailand.
- Examine and evaluate various aspects regarding the renewable energy market, additionally providing an analysis of the effects (benefits and drawbacks) of these regulations.
- Provide recommendations based on the possible gaps in the subject and opinions of individuals involved with the renewable energy sources in Thailand.
This research is, therefore, justified because it will form an important part of policy formulation. When formulating the policies, it is always necessary to identify some of the challenges that may be faced, and this is the role that this research will play.
This will help in making the policies realistic and conscious of some of the local forces that may affect it in one way or the other. The chapter below focuses on the review of literature on this topic.
When conducting research, it is important to have a clear plan on how data should be collected. Working without a plan may have serious negative consequences on the quality of data collected, and the time taken to collect it. The researcher can easily be swayed into gathering information that is not relevant to the study if there is no clear plan on how the process will be conducted.
The researcher will rely on data collected from primary and secondary sources in addressing the research problem. Research questions will help in collecting precise information from these two sources. The following some of the questions that will help in guiding the process of collecting primary data.
- What are some of the challenges encountered by renewable energy policies?
- What is the impact of these challenges on the country’s effort to expand its renewable energy sources?
- How can these challenges be addressed and who are the stakeholders responsible for this?
The above questions will form the foundation of data collection process. They will help in the development of the questionnaires that will be used in collecting primary data from the selected participants. They will also define the nature of secondary data that will be analysed in chapter two of this paper.
The field of renewable energy has attracted attention of many scholars as countries struggle to find alternative sources of energy which are environmentally friendly. Renewable energy policies have been developed in many countries to offer guidelines on how the stakeholders can approach the issue.
Craddock (2008, p. 58) defines renewable energy policies as “Regulations or incentives that are created to encourage the use of renewable energy, and the main purpose of these policies is to increase the production of renewable energy.” As shown in the definition above, the policies aim at finding ways through which production of renewable energy can be increased.
According to Chiras (2011, p. 39), although the main aim of increased focus on renewable energy is to reduce reliance on fossil fuel, environmentalists have also supported this move because of the need to reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
Fossil fuel has been considered one of the leading pollutants in the world. Reducing the usage of fossil fuel and focusing on renewable energy is the best way of finding solution to the environmental problems caused by excessive carbon emission into the atmosphere.
Renewable energy policies have played a significant role in promoting production of alternative sources of energy. According to Andexer (2008, p. 113), many countries have formulated various policies to ensure that the sector is properly financed. However, these policies have been encountering numerous challenges because of a number of reasons.
One of the main issues that have been identified by Da (2013, p. 67) is that relying on the success story of one country by another country may lead to disastrous results because of the differences in environmental factors. For instance, while solar energy may work very well in Sub-Sahara Africa that experiences extreme temperate throughout the year, the strategy may not work well in parts of Russia.
The strategy that Germany uses because of its advanced technologies may not work well in Thailand that is still struggling with its technological sector. This means that the renewable energy policies that are to be used in Thailand must be developed based on local environmental factors (Chiras 2011, p. 90).
The challenges encountered in these policies can best be understood by first analysing the energy mix in this country, government institutions involved in the renewable energy sector, the private stakeholders’ role in formulation and implementation of the policies, and other related factors.
Many countries around the world have been concerned about the rising cost of fossil fuel, the dwindling oil reserves, and the impact of pollution caused by petroleum products. These are some of the main factors that have made many countries, both developed and developing, to consider alternative sources of energy. Renewable energy sources are considered the best solution to the above problems.
The United States is the largest consumer of energy in the world. It has developed policies that are focused on expanding its renewable sources of energy (Craddock 2008, p. 97). The country has specifically been focusing on hydropower, wind energy, geothermal, biogas among other sources of renewable energy.
Australia has also been keen on expanding its renewable energy sources. According to Andexer (2008, p. 48), the country has set aside A$24 billion to finance a project that targets to produce 20% of its power from renewable sources by the end of the year 2020.
The European Union countries also have a similar plan of achieving 20% of the total production of energy from renewable sources. According to Chiras (2011, p. 42), Germany is the Europe’s leading energy economy and the leader in renewable energy development. The country has developed policies that would help it to produce 35% of its local energy needs from renewable resources.
The percentage is expected to increase to 80% by 2050 (Beerepoot, Laosiripojana, Sujjakulnukij, Tippichai and Kamsamrong (2013, p. 14). Japan is another country that has been keen on expanding its renewable energy sources. According to Craddock (2008, p. 84), the country aims at producing about 35% of the energy used locally from the renewable resources.
After the Fu-Kushima disaster, Japan decided to destroy its nuclear energy plant. This means that it has to find alternative sources in order to reduce its overreliance of the fossil fuel imported from the Middle East and other parts of the world. In order to stimulate growth in renewable energy sector, the government introduced ‘feed-in tariff’ as an incentive to the investors in this field.
This has stimulated development of renewable energy sector over the recent past as private entities rush to take advantage of this incentive. This strategy has worked in Germany and the United Kingdom, and Japan felt that it could yield good results in this country.
Energy Mix and Installed Capacity
It is important to understand the energy mix and installed capacity of various sources of energy in this country in order to determine the current position of renewable energy in Thailand. According to Beerepoot, Laosiripojana, Sujjakulnukij, Tippichai and Kamsamrong (2013, p. 23), “Thailand’s total installed electricity generation capacity in 2011 was 31,773 megawatts.”
This has increased over the last three years as the demand for energy has been on the rise lately. This has forced the government to import fossil fuel and electricity from the neighbouring countries. The government has made a concerted effort to boost its production of renewable sources of energy over the past decade.
Chiras (2011, p. 45) says, “The installed capacity of renewable energy was 2,156.9 MW, or about 6.8 per cent of the total installed capacity by the end of the year 2011.” This percentage has drastically increased within the past years following the enactment of Acts and policies meant to increase reliance on renewable sources. The following diagram shows the main sources of energy in Thailand from 1990 to 2011.
Figure 1: Energy Sources in Thailand from 1990 to 2011
Source (Craddock 2008, p. 36)
As shown in the above diagram, most of the energy that the country has been using is from the fossil fuel. In the last 21 years, the consumption of natural gas has been on the rise. Given the fact that the gas is not found locally, the country has been forced to rely heavily on imports.
However, Craddock (2008, p. 59) says that the government has been keen on expanding the renewable energy sources to reduce overreliance on the fossil fuel. The country has majorly focused on the hydropower, wind power, geothermal, and biogas. Having a mix of renewable sources is important because it widens the scope of energy tapping.
Government Institutions in the Energy Sector
The government of Thailand has the sole responsibility of formulating and implementing renewable energy policies that are focused on expanding the country’s renewable energy production capacity (Da 2013, p. 74).
All other institutions are only expected to facilitate the government with the needed knowledge on what should be done. The government of Thailand has dedicated this function to the ministry of energy. The figure below shows the structure of the ministry of energy in this country.
Figure 2: The Structure of Thailand’s Ministry of Energy
Source (Da 2013, p. 57)
According to Da (2013, p. 56), the departments in the ministry of energy are structured in a way that they depend on each other in order to function properly. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency is responsible for the development of renewable energy in this country.
However, it is important to note that there are other departments which are also involved in the production of renewable energy within this ministry. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand is specifically concerned with the management of hydropower, which is one of the renewable sources.
The Energy Regulatory Commission and the Energy Policy and Planning Office are responsible for the formulation of policies, and monitoring their implementation in various sectors. The Department of Energy Business is the direct link between the government of Thailand and the private sector within this industry.
The Energy Fund Administration Institute draws the financial budget for the other departments in every financial year (Black & Flarend 2010, p. 78). It is, therefore, clear that all these departments are related when it comes to development and implementation of renewable energy policies within this country. The challenges faced by renewable energy policies can arise at any stage within the departments.
According to Smil (2014, p. 54), the Energy Fund Administration Institute is facing the challenge of balancing its limited budget on various activities involved in the production of energy. There is always a challenge in making the decision on whether to spend more on new research, expansion of existing renewable energy facilities, or on recurrent expenditure.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand always faces the challenge on whether to increase investment into local production of hydropower or to continue relying on the cheap imported electricity.
The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency has been struggling to find a working formula on how to corporate with the Energy Policy and Planning Office and Energy Regulatory Commission. As Da (2013, p. 78) notes, these challenges can be addressed effectively if these departments work together.
Key Legislation and Regulations
The ministry of energy in this country has been closely involving the parliament when formulating policies to regulate the production of renewable energy sources. Fundamental policies were enacted into law through various Acts. According to Da (2013, p. 43), National Energy Policy Act B.E of 1992 is one of the fundamental laws that that was enacted to help in policy formulation and regulation.
The National Energy Policy Council was established through this Act, and it has played a major role in promoting development of renewable energy sources. The Organisation of State Administration Act B.E 2002 is another landmark legislation in the recent times that has helped in the development of infrastructure in the renewable energy sector.
Development of renewable energy policies through legislation has been considered beneficial because it the all the stakeholders will be bound to adhere by it. However, Craddock (2008, p. 29) says that the main challenge that has been encountered when formulating policies through this approach is negative politics that is sometimes common in the parliament.
It is common to find the parliamentarians shooting down a good bill because the political climate is not conducive. In other cases, the parliamentarians would amend the bill to favour prevailing political environment. This is always worsened by the fact that most of the parliamentarians are not experts in this field, and therefore, may pass legislations that are counterproductive to the development of renewable energy.
Government Incentives for Renewable Energy
The government has always been keen on developing policies that would help eliminate obstacles when expanding renewable energy sources. According to Smil (2014, 56), the government has been using incentives as a way of motivating the growth of renewable energy sources.
Each of these incentives has been beneficial to this sector. However, there are some challenges that have been experienced when using each of the incentives. The following are the main incentives that have been given by the government to expand growth of this sector.
The government of Thailand has been extending financial incentives to both public and private entities that are directly involved in the production of renewable energy. According to Black and Flarend (2010, p. 90), the most of the companies producing renewable energy have received grants from the government to boost their operations.
Many companies producing biogas have been supported by such grants in order to expand their infrastructure. The government has also formed close relationship with the capital market to expand financial sources of firms in the renewable energy department.
Although this has played an important role in infrastructure development in this country, Smil, (2014, p. 55) says that some foreign companies have benefitted unfairly from this incentive. They have taken advantage of the financial incentives to finance other businesses other than that of renewable energy.
Some of these companies would get the grants and expand their production capacity of fossil fuel or other unrelated businesses. Other companies also go for the government subsidised loans claiming that they need to expand their renewable energy infrastructure, while the truth is that they need such funds for other activities. This has impacted on this sector negatively.
The funds set aside for the development of renewable energy would find their way to other unrelated activities, limiting the growth of the sector. This malpractice has seen the government come up with stringent policies, some of which may be counterproductive.
The government has been forced to formulate policies that would require investors to follow several channels before they get the grants or subsidised loans to eliminate cases of fraud. However, the bureaucratic approach has seen other investors in the renewable energy sectors go for alternative funding (Black & Flarend 2010, p. 90).
Fiscal incentives are also common ways that the government has been using to promote expansion of renewable energy sources. According to Craddock (2008, p. 38), there are two main fiscal policies that the government has been using in the recent past. For companies that have just entered the market, the government has a policy that gives them a tax holiday for two years.
This means that for the two years, the companies are not expected to remit any taxes to the government. The second approach is through reduced rates of tax. According to Smil (2014, p. 53), the government of Thailand has been very lenient when taxing companies in the renewable energy sector.
In most of the cases, the companies in the renewable energy sector always have special tax rates which are always below the normal rates.
These policies have benefitted many companies in this sector. However, Andexer (2008, p. 54) says that it has limited the ability of most of these firms to compete with other firms in the international markets. They are so used to the government incentives that they consider working in other environments as being oppressive.
The government has also been using other incentives to promote expansion of renewable sources of energy. According to Craddock (2008, p. 59), the government recently introduced a policy where some of the expensive infrastructure used in the production of renewable energy are sourced for by the government.
In this strategy, the government would buy these infrastructural equipments from countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States or Germany and sell them directly to the players in this industry at favourable costs. This approach eliminates the middlemen who always inflate the prices of such products. Another recent policy that has been introduced is market preference for renewable energy products in the market.
As Smil (2014, p. 57) notes, the government currently prioritises renewable energy over fossil fuel as a way expanding the market for the companies operating in the industry. These companies are also exempted from prolonged regulatory procedures during the registration process.
Although these policies have positive impact on companies operating in this industry, critics have complained that it does not offer a levelled ground for competition from other sector. Extending of excessive incentives to one sector of this industry and ignoring other sectors may result into imbalanced development.
The government has not given enough attention to oil exploration within the country. This means that as long as the renewable energy is not able to meet the gap, the country will still be forced to depend on the imported oil from other countries within the region.
The Role of the Private Sector in Policy Formulation and Implementation
According to Da (2013, p. 84), the private sector has played an important role formulation and implementation within the country. This scholar notes that the private sector should not be ignored because they also have a pivotal role to play in the policy formulation and implementation process.
The role of the private sector can be analysed from different perspectives. The renewable energy sector has many private firms that are involved in the production of process. They include companies involved in the manufacture of solar panels, wind and geothermal turbines, hydropower turbines, and other infrastructural equipments.
They also include companies involved in the actual production of the renewable energy from the field. Stakeholders in the private sector may also include individuals who have enough skills and experience in the renewable energy sector that the government may source for when developing policies.
Organisations such as institutions of higher learning are also vital, especially when it is necessary to conduct research before coming up with new policies, or adjusting the existing ones (Fuchs & Masoum 2011, p. 44).
These stakeholders should be actively engaged by the ministry of energy to ensure that their skills and experience are taken into consideration by the relevant departments. According to Freris and Infield (2008, p. 53), one of the main challenges that have been encountered by renewable energy policies is the inability of the government to involve the private stakeholders adequately.
Most of the skilled labours that graduate from our institutions of higher learning are easily poached by developed nations. This means that their after spending taxpayers money to train such individuals locally, they export the skills to development countries despite the fact that the skill is needed within the local industry.
Yoon (2011, p. 196) blames this on the sluggish approach that is taken by various departments within the ministry of energy to engage these institutions during the policy formulation process. In many cases, some of the graduates do not realise that the government have the potential to employ them once they graduate. This creates anxiety, forcing some of them to look for alternative employment outside the country.
The research by Wilcox, (2013, p. 10) shows that government is yet to formulate policies that may curb the negative trend. It is already known that the best way of addressing this problem is to engage such students from early stages of their education. However, the current policies are not addressing this problem adequately.
The ministry has also been blamed for its dictatorial approach when it comes to implementing of some of the policies. Instead of being a partner in this process, the ministry officials have been accused of harassing players in this sector, a fact that has affected the relationship between these two important stakeholders.
According to Gipe and Gipe (2003, p. 38), it is important to analyse some of the underpinning theories that may be used when developing the renewable energy theories.
This scholar says that theories also always vital in informing the decision that are made when developing or implementing various theories. In this study, it is important to analyse some of the fundamental theories that the stakeholders should use when formulating renewable energy theories in this country.
Theory of Sustainability
This is one of the most popular theories in the current society as many countries seek to achieve sustainable development. According to Smil (2014, p. 55), “Sustainable development and management of global and regional resources is not an ecological problem, nor an economic one, nor a social one. It is a combination of all three.” The diagram below shows the three fundamental facets of sustainability.
Figure 3: Model of Sustainable Development
Source (Craddock 2008, p. 36)
As shown in the above model, Sustainability Theory emphasises on the need to develop policies which are environmentally friendly, economically feasible, and socially equitable. None of the facets should be ignored by the policy makers in order to come up with programmes which are universally acceptable within the country.
This focus of this chapter is on various aspects of research development as defined in the research proposal. This chapter will focus on methods of data collection used in this study, its analysis and the presentation procedures. Every research applies a given research method in order to achieve its objectives based on its goals.
The research methods used to conduct research in this study closely compared with the methods that were proposed in the proposal of the research. The research proposal had been proven to be workable, and that is why the researcher followed the proposed methods.
In research, design primarily deals with the aims, uses, intentions, purposes, and plans within practical constraints of time, money, location, and availability of the respondents who will participate in the research. In this section of the methodology, the main areas of focus will be the research philosophy, research strategy, research design, data collection, data analysis, sampling strategies, and limitations of the research.
Research philosophy plays an important in research because it defines the approach taken in the development of knowledge in the study. In qualitative research, objectivism, subjectivism, and constructivism are some of the common research philosophies that are used, depending on the nature of the study. In this study, the researcher will use objectivism philosophical views.
According to Bryman (2008, p. 19), “Objectivism asserts that social phenomena confront us as external facts that are beyond our reach or influence.” This philosophy is very relevant in the research because there are some external factors that influence production of renewable energy which are beyond our control. For instance, solar energy is one of the best alternative sources.
However, it can only be tapped if there is enough sunlight, something that the country has no control over. Similarly, the country cannot control the wind speed, which also forms an attractive source of alternative energy. These are factors that the country cannot control even if the ministry increases its budget in this sector. For this reason, there should be internal strategies on how these external forces can be managed properly.
According to Sissine (2008, p. 52), it is important to clearly define the research strategy and its rationale. The research used deductive method in the data analysis. The research used both primary and secondary sources of information. The literature review focus on various aspects of renewable energy, including the global renewable energy market.
The research will also focus on the regulatory policies used in other countries, and the challenges that they face. Many of the literatures used in this study focused on how to achieve sustainability in renewable energy.
This was necessary to help compare the policies used in other countries with that of Thailand in managing alternative sources of energy. Both primary and secondary data will define the conclusion that will be mad in this study.
This research will involve ethnographic study, and the researcher will participate directly in the process of data collection. The researcher will use both structured and unstructured questions to collect primary data. In order to guide the process of collecting primary data, the researcher will use questionnaire. The questionnaire design used in this study is discussed below.
It is vital to define the questionnaire design that has been used in this research. In order to collect primary data, the researcher used questionnaires which were delivered to the participants by the researcher. The questionnaire was structured into four major parts. The first part of the questionnaire sought to capture background information of all the respondents who participated in this study.
The section part dealt with the demographical factors of the respondents. This was to determine the prevalence of views in different categories in order to ensure that if any inconsistencies were detected, then it would be easy to capture them in their demographic space. The third section dealt with the academic credentials and work experience of the respondents both at ministry of energy and other similar institutions within the region.
The motivation for this section of the questionnaire came from the knowledge that different people would respond differently to various issues, based on their age and academic qualifications.
The fourth part delved into specific issues renewable energy policies in the country, and some of the challenges that have been encountered during their formulation or implementation stages. The bulk of the questions were found in this section.
This research used qualitative methods, and for this reason, most of the questions in this questionnaire were unstructured. However, the researcher considered it necessary to employ a mix of closed and open ended questions to capture different aspects of issues under investigation.
The open-ended questions were used because they give the respondents enough time to think about their response, a fact that makes them feel comfortable when responding to the questions set in the study.
This allowed the researcher to understand the position of respondents and the reason why they gave specific responses. Open-ended questions also minimise errors that could have occurred in the course of the research when the researcher is focused to guess why the respondent has given a specific response. The fact that they are given opportunity to explain their views eliminates the need to make guesses about their view.
According to Bryman (2008, p. 21), respondents are always at ease if they are given the opportunity to respond to the questions freely. This approach eliminates possibility of the respondents ignoring some of the question.
Each response in the closed ended questions can be codified for easy statistical interpretation. Although this was a qualitative research, it was considered necessary to have a few questions that were structured in nature in order to make it possible to conduct statistical analysis if the need may arise during the data analysis process. According to Bryman (2008, p. 67), closed-ended questions are compatible with computer package.
This approach is more specific, which means that its answers are very consistent. This aspect may be impossible when using open-ended questions because respondents are allowed to use their own words. Finally, the closed-ended questions took lesser time to administer as compared to the open-ended questions, a fact that was important given the limited time that was available for the study.
The questionnaire was hand-delivered and administered by the researcher in the form of face-to-face interview. The researcher recorded the responses from the participants personally. The researcher made this decision after consideration of time and resources available for the study.
This method may be time consuming, but it is effective. Besides, the method allowed the respondents to reflect on the set questions and answer them with accuracy. The method is not easily affected by the level of respondent’s literacy skills.
The use of questionnaire enabled the researcher to capture relevant issues which are unique to renewable energy policies within Thailand. This was important because there was limited literature with the desired degree of relevance to the subject matter of renewable energy in this country.
As the participants responded to the questions, the researcher was keen to capture any facial expression that would give further clue to the responses beyond what the respondents were stating in words.
The availability of the participants heavily influenced the choice of this approach because most of the respondents were full time employees in the ministry of energy or other related industries, and for this reason, it is not easy to find all of them in one place at a given time. After data collection, it went through a detailed analysis, which culminated into discussion and conclusions discussed in chapters four and five of this report.
Scope of Data Collection
In this study, defining the scope of data collection was considered important for this study in order to guide its usage. According to Bryman (2008, p. 32), sometimes one may misuse a given report by applying it in an irrelevant context, making it difficult to achieve the desired results. For this reason, it was considered necessary to define the context under which the primary and secondary sources of data were collected.
The researcher used secondary sources of data to define the theoretical perspective of this research. It is important to understand the fact that the information given by the secondary sources captured the topic under varying environmental factors and countries.
The primary source of data was obtained from the employees of the ministry of energy and other related institutions who were related in one way or the other in policy making or implementation. The researched asked the participants about a number of issues relating to renewable energy polices within Thailand.
The researcher explained to all participants of the survey what this research is all about and why it was important to the research.
Although secondary data was collected from literatures that focused on various countries, the process of collecting primary data was restricted to Thailand because of the nature of the research. This means that it would not be appropriate to apply the information from the primary data on a global context.
Data analysis refers to the process of transforming raw data into useful information that can be applied in different contexts. Before choosing an appropriate method of analysing data, it is necessary to determine the objective of the study. The study may take categorical, qualitative, or quantitative approach. This study only used qualitative data that involve interpretive approach to the subject matter.
The interviews were be noted in details as to whom the interview was with, and their views on this subject. The information gathered was put together to create topics of answers which was then be reasoned and evaluated, producing an overall mixture of views towards the challenges of the renewable energy policies as per the views of the participants.
Each of the participants gave different views about the challenges encountered by renewable energy policies. They also gave varying approaches that can be used in addressing these challenges in order to ensure that they do not affect the process of implementing the policies.
Each of the participants shared their thought about the stakeholders who should be directly involved in policy formulation, implementation, and addressing of the challenges.
There are some factors that should be put into consideration when choosing the right method of sampling in any given study. In this research, the aim was to interview individuals who are directly involved with the energy sector in Thailand, especially the renewable sources.
Based on the required sample size and the arrangements of meetings and the availability of the target population, the study interviewed employees from two Thai renewable energy companies to gain various views on the subject. The research also interviewed five other individuals that have knowledge and strong opinions of this particular market, especially those who are working in senior position in the ministry of energy.
This large sample size was chosen because it would provide wide range of views, which increases the reliability and credibility of the study. The researcher felt that the more interviews, the better the results. However, the timeframe of conducting this research was a limit to the amount of interviews that could be carried out. In order to capture participants in these three major categories, stratified sampling approach was used.
The first strata had the senior employees from the ministry of energy. The second and third strata came from the first and second companies chosen in this study. Participants from each of the three strata were chosen through simple random sampling. The researcher made an effort to ensure that personal biases do not affect the process of choosing the participants.
When conducting this study, the researcher faced a number of challenges which are worth noting at this stage. One of the main limitations in this study was the amount of time that was available to collect, analyse and present the needed time. The time was too short to explore various resources. This also limited the number of respondents who were engaged in this study.
However, the researcher made an effort to ensure that the data obtained credible and reliable. The uncertainty of the availability of the respondents was another challenge faced in this research. The unstable political environment in Thailand has resulted in a situation where many people prefer staying indoors. It was not easy to trace these respondents because they failed to appear in the pre-determined locations.
Analysis and Discussion
In the previous chapter of this paper, the methodology was clearly defined in order to explain how the primary data will be analysed. In this chapter, the focus will be to analyse the primary data that was collected with the help of questionnaires from the selected participants. As mentioned in the chapter above, this research will use qualitative analysis of the primary data.
This will involve descriptive data based on the explanations obtained from the respondents. The researcher used open-ended questions to allow the respondents time to explain their views about the questions posted to them. This chapter will then focus on the discussion of the findings of both primary and secondary data. This will help in identifying any similarities or differences that could be there in both sources of data.
Analysis of the Research Questions
The research used a series of open ended questions to collect the relevant information from the participants. The researcher posed the questions to the respondents with the help of the questionnaires. The results that were obtained from the field were analysed qualitatively. The following are some of the research questions that were posed to the participants in this study.
As a policy maker, what do you have to consider when placing a policy?
This question was meant for the participants who were at the managerial level either in the public or private sector. The following table shows some of the common factors that these participants stated that they would consider.
Figure 3: Factors to be considered when placing a policy
The table above identifies some of the common factors that respondents felt should be considered when placing a policy. One of the respondents stated that the overall infrastructure of the country meant to tap renewable energy was very important when placing the policy.
A few respondents felt that improving the economy and sustainability of the country will expand the market for renewable energy, and therefore, it should not be ignored. Some respondents stated that regulations and plans of the government are critical when developing the policies.
A section of the respondents felt that global and regional changes in this field would influence the decisions made, especially the success rates in other countries. Other respondents stated that the policy makers should look at how sustainability can be created before placing a policy.
What are the challenges encountered by these policies in Thailand? And which one is the biggest challenge?
Figure 4: Challenges encountered by renewable energy policies
The participants indentified a number of challenges that affect the renewable energy policies either at the implementation or formulation stage. The biggest challenge to the renewable energy policies was identified as the natural limitations. Most of the respondents stated that during the formulation of the policies, the policy makers always face the challenge of how to eliminate these natural limitations.
A good example was the fact that solar system would need areas with sunlight. Another respondent stated that wind energy would need areas with adequate wind power which we don’t really have as we are near the equator so wind comes seasonally and those areas are environmentally protected.
Some respondents felt that political interference at the policy formulation stage was a big challenge that the stakeholders needed to address urgently in order to protect the renewable energy sector. Another respondent stated that there is limited domestic production of energy in Thailand.
The country has been relying on imports from various regional countries. One respondent stated that another challenge that is encountered by renewable energy policies is how to use energy efficiently. The policy makers do not have control on how individual citizens consume this product once it is delivered to them.
For this reason, it is common to find that the energy produced do not last as long as had been anticipated by the policy makers. The respondent stated that it is relatively easier to implement the policies where citizens understand the importance of responsible energy usage. Another participant stated that the country is over relying on gas, a fact that affects development of other alternative sources of energy.
The development of Thailand has mainly depended on gas as major source of fuel in many homes. Given the fact that this energy is imported, some participants felt that the country may be at risk of global price fluctuation. One of the respondent stated that the risk will keep increasing if we don’t spread the fuel mix to have less dependency on gas.
What is your opinion on the present and future (3-10-20yrs) of the renewable energy market in Thailand?
This question focused on determining some of the expected changes that the participants felt would occur within the next 3 to 20 years to come. The graph below shows some of the common responses that were obtained from the respondents.
Figure 5: Future of the renewable energy
Some respondents felt that in future, there will be need to maintain low cost of electricity to enable the country can boost its economy as many industries are very dependent on this form of energy. Other respondents stated that it is important to develop renewable energy infrastructure in order to improve the fuel mix used both domestically and in the industrial sector.
One of the respondents stated that in future, the need for gas both for domestic and industrial use will be less than 50% of the current need in 10 years to come. Many respondents felt that the country should venture into nuclear energy production in the future in 20 years to come.
Although the respondents were weary of the associated costs, including the risks, they felt that advancing technologies will enable the country to venture into this energy sector. A section of the respondents felt that the country should improve its production capacity of hydropower within the next 3 years so that we can reduce reliance on imported energy.
What is your opinion on the policies that are implemented to encourage renewable energy uses in Thailand?
This question was meant to capture the opinion of the respondents about the policies which are implemented to encourage the use of renewable energy in Thailand. The researcher wanted to determine how effective these policies are in addressing challenges faced in renewable energy sector.
According to some of the respondents, policies in Thailand changes quite often which can be both bad and good in terms of developing this sector. A clear example is the recently increased solar quota that many stakeholders in this industry have criticised. However, many respondents felt that the overall policies for renewable energy market in Thailand are consistently improving regardless of changes in the government.
This is because the people behind the government are committed to the development of this sector. One of the respondents felt that the policies implemented to encourage usage of renewable energy in Thailand borrow heavily from the policies used in the West.
This should not be the case because the economy and technological environment of the West is very different from that in Thailand. The respondents felt that using Germany as a benchmark is an ambitious move, but it should not form the basis of the policies developed for the local economy.
Do you have any recommendations of what should be done to fully implement these policies?
This question was meant to collect different ideas from the participants on how the renewable energy policies can be adjusted to improve the capacity of the country to expand its alternative sources of energy. The figure below shows some of the options that were given by the respondents.
Figure 6: Policy recommendations
The respondents gave different views on how the renewable energy policies can be adjusted to address some of the currently experienced challenges. Some respondents felt that a new policy should be introduced that would rely on bidding using the pricing structure for control. According to these respondents, the one with matured technology would be considered the winner of such bids and allowed to invest.
Those with technology which are not really matured yet would be given a period to readjust their systems and address the apparent weaknesses before they can be allowed to make substantial investment. For example, back then solar cells were expensive.
In such cases, the government should avoid investing in that sector because the burden will be placed on the consumer. When the technology in the sector matures, the government will take advantage of the opportunity and reduced prices to make heavy investment in the industry.
Some participants stated that all stakeholders should be involved in the policy formulation and implementation. The private sector, individuals with the relevant skills, and institutions of higher learning should be allowed to participate in formulation of renewable energy policies.
They will help in identifying some of the possible challenges that may affect the programme, and how these challenges can be addressed. One of the respondents stated that the government should make an effort to outsource skilled labour from countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, and the United States to help develop renewable energy sector.
Some respondents stated that the government of Thailand should increase its budgetary allocations to the renewable energy sector in order to facilitate research. Many respondents felt that that some of the current policies are counterproductive in the development of renewable energy. They stated that the policies should be revised regularly, and that that are identified as being retrogressive should be eliminated.
In the above section, the research has analysed some of the challenges encountered by renewable energy policies as per the views of the respondents. It is important to compare some of the responses given by the participants, and the information gathered from the literatures. In this section, the focus will be on some of the specific renewable energy sources, available policies regarding them, and the challenges that have been faced.
The participants stated that solar energy has great potential that is yet to be fully exploited. This compares closely with the information gathered from the review of the literatures. According to Overton (2014, p. 57), solar energy is one of the least exploited alternative sources of energy in Thailand. Currently, the country only produces 79 MW of power from this source.
The government has developed policies which are meant to expand production of energy from solar from the current status, to 500 MW by 2017 and a further expansion to 2000 MW by 2021. This is a massive development program that would expand the production of solar energy by over 2530% by the end of 2021.
The main challenge for this policy is lack of proper storage technologies of the energy collected from this source. In most of the cases, solar energy tapped in private homes goes to waste because of the poor storage facilities.
Most of the respondents stated that wind energy can help reduce the country’s dependence on importation of electricity from neighbouring countries. The literatures helped in understanding the current and future status of power generation from wind energy. The research by Garcia, Alzate and Barrera (2012, p. 320) shows that Thailand has not been able to maximise its wind power. Currently, the country only gets 115 MW of power.
Following a research conducted by the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, the ministry of energy came up with a plan that would help improve this capacity to 1777 MW by the end of 2021. However, Essletzbichler (2012, p. 812) says that the main challenge of this technology is the limited technological advancement that is needed to accomplish this goal.
The turbines needed to produce wind energy are imported from Germany and the United States. This means that the possibility of achieving success when using this policy heavily rely on the ability of these international technocrats to produce superior products.
When asked about the way forward, most of the respondents felt that biomass offers the best alternative source of energy, and that the government should increase its expenditure in this field in order to have increased production. Biomass has received massive attention from the government. According to Bridgewater and Bridgewater (2009, p. 47), the ministry of energy has been spending a lot in this sector over the past decade.
It is the most reliable alternative source of energy in this country. Currently, the country gets over 2800 MW from biomass. The policies recently developed by this ministry still favour this sector, especially in terms of the investment. According to Black and Flarend (2010, p. 63), the country expects to reduce its reliance on natural gas by expanding its production of biomass to be used for domestic purposes.
The ministry targeted to achieve an increase in production of biomass energy from the current 2800 to 3620 by the end of 2021. However, this policy was reviewed because of some of the challenges that are already being experienced in this expansion plan.
One such challenge is the assistive technologies needed to make this the production successful. Andexer (2008, p. 68) also notes that in many homes, cases of misuse of this energy source is common, especially in the informal settlements with the urban centres.
Analysis of the primary data reveals that biogas has also acted as an alternative source of energy in Thailand for the past decade. The participants stated that biogas production has been successful because of the policy that brings together the government agencies, the local communities, and learning institutions. Their sentiments were shared by the reports from various books and journals used in this study.
Gipe and Gipe (2003, p. 112) say that institutions of higher learning have played a major role in the expansion of biogas plants in various parts of the country. These institutions have partnered with farmers, especially the dairy farmers to help them in the production of biogas from their animal wastes. This explains why biogas is very common in the rural setting in this country.
The government policy allowing learning institutions to partner with the local community groups has been praised as one of the reasons why biogas has become an important source of energy in many rural homes. However, the main challenge that stakeholders in this field have faced is under financing.
According to Chambers (2004, p. 97), in many cases, students would get minimal or no financial support from the government when they visit these community groups. This has discouraged some of them from actively participating on such programmes. Currently, the country gets 159 MW from biogas produced locally. The new policies that have been formulated are expected to increase this output to 600 by the end of the year 3021.
In their recommendations, some of the respondents felt that small hydrogenation stations may be the solutions to reducing the cost of electricity in this country. They felt that the ministry of energy should increase its expenditure on this sector as it seeks to achieve energy independence by 2050. The sentiments were echoed by the scholars whose works were reviewed in this research.
Chiras (2011, p. 34) says that other that the large hydro plants in this country, there are some small plants at the community levels that are expected to expand the electricity production in the country. These small plants started to reduce overreliance on imported electricity. Most of these plants are operated by the government, but the ministry has enacted a policy that allows private players to engage in this sector (Craddock 2008, p. 54).
This will create positive competition in the market. However, the possible challenge that this policy may face is from unscrupulous government officials who may want to use public facilities to operate their privately owned institutions. Small hydro currently accounts for 165 MW of power that is consumed locally.
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand has developed a plan that is expected to expand the production of electricity from the small hydro from the current capacity to 1608 in 2021. This is expected to help in reducing the amount of electricity imported from the neighbouring countries (Da 2013, p. 76).
From the primary data, it was clear that geothermal is one of the renewable sources of energy that has become very popular in many countries around the world. The respondents stated that the ministry of energy has been working closely with private investors to exploit the opportunities in this sector. This information was also found in some of the literatures that were reviewed in this study.
Public-private partnership policies that were implemented in 2010 were meant to bring together expert knowledge in this field, pull resources, and eliminate unhealthy competition in the market (Freris & Infield 2008, p. 40). This policy was considered as none confrontational approach in the renewable energy market. The ministry of energy has involved foreign investors in this field in order to maximise on its potential.
According to Fuchs and Masoum (2011, p. 54), geothermal is a relatively new alternative source of energy in this country, but the government believes that it has the potential that should be tapped with the right technologies.
Tidal wave and Hydrogen
Many respondents felt that Thailand is yet to enhance its technological infrastructure to match that which is used in the Western countries. However, they were positive that one day the country will achieve this technological advancement that may enable it to exploit tidal wave and hydrogen energy.
According to Frishberg (2013, p. 5), technology is transforming the world, and many countries are currently using modern methods to extract energy from various sources. Tidal waves and hydrogen are some of the new sources of energy that many countries are currently exploring. Tidal waves in the high seas have strong currents that are used to drive turbines. The energy is then converted into electric power.
This technology is common in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and many other technologically advanced countries. Hydrogen power is also a new energy production method that uses specialised equipments to produce gas.
Esty and Charnovitz (2012, p. 122) say that Thailand currently lack clear policies on how these two types of energy can be tapped in order to reduce the country’s reliance on renewable sources.
Validity and reliability of the method
When conducting an analysis, it is vital to ensure that the validity and reliability of the methods is assured in order to make credible conclusion from the research. In this section, it is important to discuss how validity and reliability of the research were protected. According to Bryman (2008, p. 21), validity refers to “The appropriateness, applicability and truthfulness of a study.
It is the ability of research instruments to produce results that are in agreement with theoretical and conceptual values.” In this study, internal validity was assured by ensuring that the sample population used was a true representation of the entire population. The stratified sampling method used in selecting the participants ensured that the respondents were from different institutions within renewable energy sector.
External validity in this research was assured through the use of triangulation method. It means that the researcher made use of more than one technique the data collection process. This played an important role in boosting the correctness of the final conclusion and recommendations of the report.
The researcher ensured that the information collected from the field was not in any way influenced by the personal biasness. Bryman (2008, p. 45) says, “Reliability means that the study is consistent and lacks any ambiguity. It is the ability to trust something to provide information that addresses the issue at hand.” reliability largely depends on the type of tool that is used in the analysis of the collected raw data.
Thailand is one of the emerging economies in the world, and with its rapidly expanding industrial sector, the countries energy needs has been on the rise. Currently, most of the locally consumed energy is imported from the Middle East and other neighbouring regions. The fossil fuel is the main driver of the economy. The fluctuating international oil prices have affected the country’s economy, sometimes leading to inflation.
Environmentalists have also raised alarm at the increasing pollution of the environment through consumption of petroleum products. The government has been forced to focus on renewable sources of energy as the alternative source because of the challenges faced in the use of fossil fuel. There are a series of policies developed by the government to help in the development of renewable energy.
The government, through the ministry of energy, has been keen on expanding its alternative sources of energy to reduce reliance on the imported oil. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency is in charge of renewable energy development. There are other departments within this ministry which also play different roles in order to enhance production of energy from renewable sources.
When formulating the renewable energy policies, it has been revealed that there are a number of challenges that always hinder successful expansion of the renewable sources of energy. One of the major limitations identified is the limited assistive technologies needed to tap or store energy from renewable sources.
Unlike developed countries like German that have technological equipments that can be used in the production and storage of energy, Thailand is still lagging behind in its technological developments. Another factor that was identified from the primary sources of data was the interference from the political leaders in this country.
Formulation of renewable energy policies should be done by experts. However, sometimes the political class always interferes through legislation, hindering the development of this sector.
The research has also revealed that these policies do not emphasise on the need to engage the public on their role in the fight to achieve sustainable energy development. Some stakeholders complain that there is massive wastage of renewable energy by the public, especially those living in informal settlements in the urban centres.
The research also reveals that natural limitations are another hindrance to the development of renewable energy sources. Some of the natural factors such as the wind power, the solar energy, and geothermal power are beyond the control of experts. This means that sometimes it may not be easy to achieve the intended objectives because these energy sources are regulated by nature.
Some of the respondents also felt that the main challenge that is encountered by renewable energy policies is the overreliance on the fossil fuel. Both the industrial and domestic sectors heavily rely on the fossil fuel. This makes them ignore the need to play their roles in developing to participate in the production of renewable energy.
Meaningfulness of the research
This research is important to the policy makers who have been struggling to expand renewable sources of energy. The findings of this research have revealed a number of weaknesses in the current policies, and how they can be addressed in order to solve the problems encountered in the production of renewable energy.
The research has also identified the stakeholders who should be responsible for various tasks in the formulation and implementation of renewable energy policies. This research is meaningful to the government officers who are in charge of the renewable energy production.
They can use this document to inform their decision on addressing the challenges faced in this field. It is also important to the private sector and to the general public in defining their role in the development of renewable energy sources. However, it is important to note that the study was conducted in the context of Thailand’s socio-economic and technological environment.
Application of the policies suggested in this document should be based upon the local environment of this country. In case there is need to apply the findings in a different context, then it is important to ensure that the environmental differences are clearly brought out to avoid any confusion or misapplication.
Implication of the results
This research will have implications both to the policy makers and the stakeholders in the education sector. As mentioned in the section above, this study provides a clear guideline on how to address some of the challenges that the country faces in its renewable energy development. It is expected that this document will offer a lasting solution to the existing challenges, thereby expanding energy production from renewable sources.
The document has discussed various renewable energy sources, their current status in this country, and the future plans. This document will also play an important role in promoting the relationship between the government institutions and the private sector.
This research has revealed that one of the challenges encountered by the renewable energy policies in this country is limited cooperation between the government agencies and private stakeholders, including institutions of higher learning. The analysis clearly suggests that the government should move with speed to bridge this gap in order to promote creativity and innovativeness in this sector.
The academic researchers will also find this document vital in their studies. It will be an important literature that explains the current and expected future of the renewable energy in Thailand. The methodology will also help in guiding the young scholars on the approach that they can take when they are conducting qualitative studies.
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