Renewable Energy in Thailand: Green Policies Take off
by Jon Fox
23 April 2010
More renewable energy produced, less CO2 emitted
One of the most apparent outcomes of Thailand’s support of renewable energy is the surge in the number of green projects. According to Witoon Permpongsacharoen, Director of the Bangkok-based Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEE-Net), Thai government polices encourage and subsidize businesses to produce their own energy for their own needs, and feed any extra energy produced into the centralized grid. Industries that create or process materials that can be turned into bio-fuels are especially encouraged to do so. At present, there are over 150 active SPP and VSPP producers in Thailand, generating 4,769 MW, over half of which is channeled into the national grid.9 In March 2009, over 700 more SPP and VSPP licenses were approved, with a combined potential of over 10,000 MW of green energy.
The unique design of the SPP and VSPP programs seek to not only increase Thailand’s energy independence and diversity, but also reduce the Kingdom’s production of harmful greenhouse gases. Renewable energy projects developed through the SPP and VSPP programs have directly contributed to a decrease in dangerous CO2 emissions in Thailand. Nearly 5,000 Kilotons of accumulated CO2 was reduced during the period between 2004 and the first quarter of 2009.10 While less then 2% of the total 2006 levels of CO2 emissions, this reduction is equivalent to Thailand’s total CO2 emissions in 1963.11
MEE Net Director, Khun Witoon noted that many community and environmental groups would like to see more SPP and VSPP projects initiated to meet the needs of local communities. This is particularly true in agricultural communities that produce organic material that can be readily converted into bio-fuels.
Yet even renewable energy projects require care. Supakij Nantaworakarn, a renewable energy researcher with the non-government Healthy Public Policy Foundation said that "Renewable energy, notably the readily available biomass, is good for Thailand, but the government has to ensure investors carry out their projects responsibly." He explained that "investors consistently build 9.9-megawatt plants to avoid the environmental impact assessment (EIA) required by law for any power plant exceeding 10 megawatts in capacity."
The Future is Green
Renewable energy can provide Thailand with the energy it needs to fuel its future. As the Kingdom plans its energy security strategy, renewable fuels will play an increasingly important role. Seeking out and developing renewable energy projects will provide a sustainable solution and shore up the Kingdom’s energy security. Government officials, private sector executives, and NGOs all agree on this point. These initiatives are proving that developing renewable energy in Thailand is not only environmentally friendly but economically fruitful.
For more information on Thai green polices see:
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9. For a sample list of SPP & VSPP producers, see:
10. Piyasvasti Amranand, Thailand’s Experience in Clean Energy and Vision for the Future, presented at the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ADB-USAID), Manila, Philippines, June 2009.
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