Thailand testing dual-source renewable energy

Thailand found a new way to double its commitment to green, sustainable power by testing dual-source renewable energy with floating solar panels at several of its hydropower dams. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai University announced it will partner with two local firms to power its campus through rooftop solar panels.

“We plan to do both hydro and solar at eight dams as hybrid renewable power projects,” said Chatchai Mawong, director of hydro and renewable power development at the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a state agency that oversees the dams. “The construction and installation will include an energy management system for smart power supply management.”

EGAT’s plan for the eight hydropower plants nationwide will result in a combined capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW) over the next two decades. The project will launch at the Sirindhorn dam in northeastern Ubon Ratchathani province and be operational by 2020.

Following that, four more dams will serve as pilots for the project: Srinakarin dam in Kanchanaburi, Ratchaprapha dam in Surat Thani, Bhumibol dam in Tak, and Ubol Ratana dam in Khon Kaen.

The plan is a perfect fit for Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy for advanced development, and the government’s goal of sourcing 30 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2036. Thailand is already the leader in Southeast Asia in electricity generated from solar and wind sources.

The Kingdom has also been testing out innovative power strategies, such as in one Bangkok neighborhood where users trade power from the grid using blockchain technology. This results in power use that is more efficient, bringing energy and cost savings.

An analyst at the Asian Development Bank is urging Thailand to go even further.

“Thailand’s next phase of growth requires a new paradigm for the power sector; one that leads to a low-carbon economy while ensuring energy security, affordability, and sustainability,’’ wrote Pradeep Tharakan, an energy and climate change specialist with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in a column on the Modern Diplomacy website.

“This new paradigm must be based on the combination of clean energy technologies, distributed generation, energy efficiency, storage, electric vehicles, and digital technologies that are already being deployed on a large scale around the world,” he wrote.