In 2015, foreign investors, mainly from China, poured THB45.2 billion, rising 850 percent YoY, into investment towards export-oriented solar cell and panel production in Thailand. We at KResearch have assessed that if their planned investment projects remain on track, the Thai solar cell and panel manufacturing industry will have an annual production capacity of over 1,000 MW within the next few years and 2,000 MW if such projects run at full capacity thereafter.
Due to increased foreign investment into our export-oriented solar cell and panel industry, we expect that such Thai exports in 2016 will reach perhaps THB8.5-8.9 billion, rising 291.0-308.9 percent YoY, versus the THB2.9 billion in 2015, that had surged 1,452.4 percent YoY then.
KResearch sees that although Thai solar cell and panel exports are growing exponentially, our shipments have been driven mostly by new foreign companies using Thailand as a production base for exports, rather than by existing Thai firms that are currently being pressured by shrinking solar panel demand due to low domestic investment in solar power business here.
That problem is compounded by uncertainties surrounding the government's plan to liberalize power generation using solar rooftop panels on homes and commercial buildings, as well as its project to develop solar farms on land owned by government agencies amid heightened competition from new participants in the solar power business here. To cope with that risk, Thai solar panel manufacturers are advised to focus on exports to more lucrative markets, e.g., the US, Europe and/or the CLMV.