Thai energy firms banking on green power

Thailand’s biggest energy firms are increasingly banking on green power development and new business models, with over $30 billion worth of combined investments in alternative energy sources planned over the next five years as the Kingdom strives for greater energy sufficiency and security, and attempts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

More than half of that investment, $18.75 billion, will be made by PTT, the semi-privatized national energy conglomerate. But other large firms – such as publicly listed companies Bangchak Corporation, ThaiOil, and Global Power Synergy – are also on board with plans or commitments for significant investments in alternative energies.

The United Nations has called Thailand one of the countries most affected by climate change. The Thai government, private sector and the public have been taking a variety of actions to try and steer the Kingdom towards a greener and more secure and sufficient energy future. The country is highly dependent upon natural gas, and also on crude oil imported mainly from the Middle East.

The Kingdom is already the leader in Southeast Asia in solar and wind power production. Nonetheless, the country has a long way to go in making alternative energies a significant component of the power used by consumers and business. The government has set a goal of sourcing 25 percent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2036.

PTT’s investments will be spread over a five-year period, according to Chief Executive Officer Tevin Vongvanich, but he was less specific about how the money will be spent, citing the need to flexible as the business develops. He said, however, PTT needs to expand in alternative energy to create sustainable long-term income for the conglomerate.

“We cannot say what we will spend the [money] on at this time, but this budget prepares us for a new business model within five years,” Tevin said.

Chaiwat Kovavisarach, chief executive officer of Bangchak Corporation Plc. said his company and its subsidiaries have set aside a five-year investment budget of $3.6 billion to invest in alternative energy and green innovation in both domestic and overseas operations.

Roughly one-third of those funds will be devoted to developing the group’s bio-complex at Chachoengsao province, located in the Eastern Economic Corridor. Bangchak will use the complex to combine bio-based products, energy storage, food supplements, research and development, and bio-based materials, he said.

Thai Oil executives said they had set aside $128 million for a clean fuel project under consideration for development, and Global Power Synergy has committed nearly $900 million for investments in alternative energy projects and programs.