Thai climate innovation praised by Stockholm Environment Institute

Thailand’s innovations to adapt to climate change should inspire other countries, said the regional head of the Stockholm Environment Institute, as Thai officials headed to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid to reaffirm the country’s commitment to tackling the issue.

“The idea of putting the world’s largest floating solar farms in reservoirs is fantastic. If we can keep it in this way, it can help inspire other countries to do the same,” said Niall O’Connor, Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Asia Center.

O’Connor was referring to an Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) plan to float solar panels on the reservoirs at some of its dams. That combines two renewable energy sources – solar and hydropower – in one location.

He urged Thailand to take the lead in promoting solar power. The country is already the biggest solar and wind power producer in Southeast Asia, but there is plenty of room and potential to expand the use of those renewable sources.

“It is very clear that the cost of renewable energy has come down dramatically. It is now equal to or less than fossil fuel. We know we have alternatives. Why are we not doing it?” O’Connor asked.

The pilot hydro-floating solar hybrid project is planned at Sirindhorn Dam in a northeastern province, Ubon Ratchathani, by 2020 with a capacity of 45MW. The project combines hydropower from the dams, which can generate a limited amount of power throughout several seasons, and solar power.

When there is enough water, the dam will generate power to meet the system’s peak demand, while when there is a limited amount of water, the solar cells will generate power from sunlight during the day and utilize hydropower to support higher power demand during nighttime.

The project is believed to be cost effective and has no impact on environment and communities in vicinity. The floating device is made from the same material as water pipes, which is friendly to aquatic animals, agriculture areas and resident’s boat routes.

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