Renewables secure Thai wins at ASEAN energy awards


Thailand’s commitment to increasing its use of clean fuels and renewable sources of energy led to the Kingdom winning 25 of 80 prizes given out at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) energy awards in Manila last week, more than any other country in the region.

The ceremonies took place at the 35th ASEAN Energy Ministers Meeting in the Philippines, and Thailand also took the occasion to sign a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia and Laos that will enable Laos to sell 100 megawatts (MW) of clean power to Malaysia with the energy transported along Thailand’s power grids. Thailand has enough capacity in its existing grids to transport the power without new investment or construction.

The agreement is a financial boon for developing Laos. But it also underscores the importance of Thailand’s strategic location in mainland Southeast Asia that positions the Kingdom as a regional hub for energy, logistics, transport and other sectors. All of ASEAN, as well as the planet, benefits from the increasing use of clean energy facilitated by the agreement. Most energy produced by Laos is from hydropower.

Thailand’s Minister of Energy Anantaporn Kanjanarat said that the Kingdom is firmly on track to achieve its target of sourcing 20 percent of its energy from clean and renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass. Thailand is the leader in ASEAN in production of solar and wind power.

“Thailand has already attained 14 percent [of its power] from renewables,” Anantaporn said, putting it slightly ahead of ASEAN’s 10-member country average of 13 percent.

Thailand’s percentage decreases in fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions are more impressive than some observers may realize, the minister said, because the Kingdom uses a much higher volume of fossil fuels than other countries in the region. About a quarter of fossil fuels burned in the country are wasted by vehicles stuck in traffic jams, he added.

Private sector companies and state agencies won several of the awards. Suphanburi agro-firm Khao CP took home a prize for reducing energy use through innovative planning and execution. The company built a pipeline to carry its grains from granaries to mills, eliminating the use of trucks and forklifts.

“Much of Thailand’s high scores in energy efficiency is due to smooth private-public sector cooperation, and their ability to see eye-to-eye has brought many benefits from adopting clean and renewable energy. No one disputes the need to cut waste, reduce power bills and use clean fuels,” said Piya Kumara, general manager of Khao CP.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) won the award for the best green building. “Every aspect of our headquarters is world-class in environmental standards,’’ said SET executive Pongsak Jiraphanpong.