Agricultural waste-to-energy program under study

In another step towards sustainable development, the Ministry of Energy of Thailand is studying a plan to invest as much as $6 billion in agricultural waste-to-energy plants that will protect the environment and generate income for local communities.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sintijirawong said he expects state agencies, private investors, and local communities to contribute between $3.2 and $6.4 billion to fund the power plants over the next few years. Several state agencies are working on a joint feasibility study, and he expects the results will be positive. Construction of the first plants should begin by early next year.

The private sector is bullish on the project, the Minister said. “We received a warm reception from private investors for the project, and we expect an official launch by the end of this year,” Sontirat said.

Thailand leads all other countries in Southeast Asia in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the United Nations. One element of sustainability is moving to a circular economy, in which resources are used responsibly, and the products made from them are recycled and reused.

In line with that, the project will use waste byproducts from crops such as rice, corn, cassava, wood chips, coconut shells, palm oil fruit, and sugar cane. The ministry will prioritize the use of fast-growing plants such as giant Napier grass, acacia, and bamboo or new species of plants that can be used as biomass fuels.

Communities with access to power transmission lines will be able to sell excess power that they generate. Isolated or remote communities without access to those lines will still receive funding to build the power plants solely to provide electricity for themselves.

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