Tropical Thai island powered entirely by clean energy

Pha Luai is not the most well known of the paradise-like islands that bejewel the blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, but it is arguably the greenest. All 180 households and businesses on Pha Luai are powered by solar and other forms of clean energy, making it unique in the country.

Despite being part of the much larger and globally popular Koh Samui island in southern Surat Thani province, Phu Luai remains, for the most part, an undiscovered gem, unknown to the legions of foreign tourists who visit Thailand’s abundant white sand beaches and resorts.

Pha Luai maintains a low profile because it lacks the hallmarks of modern tourism development, such as five-star hotels, restaurants with Western food, and shops with brand name goods at bargain prices.

The island is best suited for trekkers and other tourists who value an authentic natural experience in terms of local culture and lifestyle. Populated mainly by Sea Gypsies who engage in farming and fishing for their livelihoods, Pha Luai’s lush green mountains and unspoiled shores are a treasure trove of biodiversity.

Although the islanders are employing modern technology to power their homes and shops, their philosophy is traditional: the development path as guided by the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP)of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The principles teach people to live a balanced existence with full respect for the environment to build resilience and achieve sustainable development.

A solar farm provides the power for Pha Luai’s lighting, the water system, the traffic system, and building and construction. Wind power also plays a role, with whirling green windmills that resemble the double helix shape of DNA slowly rotating in the breeze.

Thailand’s government recently recognized Pha Luai as Thailand’s first official “green island.” While it may not be the destination for every type of tourist, for those that value a green world, it is certainly worth a trip.

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