Thailand and the U.S. will cooperate on renewable energy

Thailand and the United States have pledged to work together to develop renewable energy as a means of responding to climate change, officials from both countries said last week after the first bilateral meeting under the joint Agreement Related to Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

Ministry of Science and Technology Permanent Secretary Weerapong Pairsuwan said Thailand and the U.S. were considering an exchange of scientists and researchers to study and share knowledge about new advances and technologies as the first step towards bilateral cooperation on renewable energy.

The Agreement Related to Scientific and Technical Cooperation was signed in Bangkok in August 2013. The inaugural meeting last week in Bangkok was co-chaired by Weerapong and Judith Garber, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Scientific Affairs.

The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in five areas: environment, health, renewable energy, metrology and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education through research, exchange of researchers and seminars.

Garber said the two countries would set up a working group to negotiate the details on how to support Thailand’s renewable energy development. She added the U.S. is also willing to support start-up businesses that use innovation and technology, seeing as the U.S. has a wealth of experience in that area.

With several major rivers running through the Kingdom, the U.S. has shown interest in helping Thailand expand and upgrade its hydropower capabilities, with an agreement in place with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to develop energy from dams.

Weerapong said, however, that the Ministry of Science and Technology is also keen to conduct more research on biomass energy. Thailand is rich in raw material from plants, such as sugar and palm, which serve as the foundation for biomass energy production. In addition, the Ministry wants to put more effort and resources into developing batteries that can be used for transport, as cutting carbon emission in that sector would help sharply reduce greenhouse gases.

The U.S. has signed cooperation agreements on science and technology with more than four-dozen nations. According to the U.S. Department of State, the frameworks facilitate the exchange of scientific results, provide for protection and allocation of intellectual property rights and benefit sharing, facilitate access for researchers, address taxation issues, and respond to the complex set of issues associated with economic development, domestic security and regional stability.

High priority areas include such areas as agricultural and industrial biotechnology research (including research on microorganisms, plant and animal genetic materials, both aquatic and terrestrial), health sciences, marine research, natural products chemistry, environment and energy research.