Date of Award

August 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Amy E Landis

Committee Member

Michael Carbajales-Dale

Committee Member

Claire LA Dancz

Committee Member

Jeffery M Plumblee

Abstract

Energy independence and energy security have become important topics for Thailand. Thailand depends on natural gas as the primary fuel for electricity generation while Thailand’s Ministry of Energy projected the depletion of available natural gas by 2032. As such, the Thai government established The Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP), which set a goal of producing approximately 20% of electricity by 2036 from renewable sources; 6,000 MW of which would come from solar power.

This thesis aims to provide guidance on policy and solar siting issues that will aid Thailand in achieving their solar energy goals. There are four objectives of this dissertation. First, abandoned lands were evaluated for their potential to develop solar to meet Thailand’s electricity demands of 326,199 GWh, expected by the year 2036, based on Power Development Plan 2015. The results indicated that the abandoned area (3.9 billion m2) was enough to install solar plants to generate sufficient energy.

Second, concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) were compared to determine which technology is the best for Thailand. Comparison showed that PV technology was more suitable for Thailand than CSP technology. Then, such result would be applied to evaluate geographically suitable ground-mounted solar power locations in Thailand by using ArcGIS based on PV technology. The results showed that the south, north, central and northeast regions, respectively in descending order, were found to be suitable to develop ground-mounted solar PV. Furthermore, the results showed that there is a possibility of achievement of AEDP target (6,000 MW) in 2036 when combined with the existing capacity.

Lastly, buffer distances were evaluated in order to protect three main conservation lands: national parks, national forests and water sources from solar energy development by using GIS. Over one thousand different cases were created to evaluate different options for buffers for various solar installations. Only 35 out of 1,331 cases met the criteria determined by this study. The most promising scenario included a buffer of 900m for national parks, 900 m for national forests, and 600 m for water sources. The total installable solar area for the most promising scenario was 96,830,100 m2.

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