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Phuket Environment: Thailand’s renewable energy possibilities

PHUKET: Among the expat community in Phuket there is a growing sense of frustration with regards to the severe environmental issues on the island.

Thursday 11 April 2013, 09:28AM


On a national scale, however, it is in fact encouraging to see what is being done with regards to sustainability and what has actually been achieved already.

For example, Thailand was one of the first countries in Asia to adopt a political action plan to promote sustainable energy production and to actively encourage alternative energy investment, already in the year 2008. In this regard, Thailand is now a role model in the region with currently 6.5 per cent of energy production being renewable. By 2021, the aim is 25 per cent.

To achieve these ambitious goals and promote the development of green technologies, the Thai Board of Investment (“BOI”) grants significant incentives for investment in energy conservation and alternative energy as well as production of eco-friendly materials and products. For certain sectors, there is also the possibility to obtain BOI promotion by changing production processes in order to reduce environmental impact.

The incentives include tax breaks, exemption from import duties, relaxation of work permit rules and even possibility of land ownership for foreign companies. This kind of government promotion is available in Phuket as well.

It is a fact that energy consumption in Thailand has risen by approximately 47 per cent over the past 10 years. As for all other net importers of crude oil, it is a political necessity for Thailand to take steps to diversify the energy sector through an increase in modern alternative energy sources. In the recent past, Thailand has successfully installed wind turbines along coastal areas where the wind speed is high.

Biomass power plants in the country produce 2,800 MW of alternative energy. Gasohol fuel using ethanol, although not being without concerns, is now well established. Also the number of solar energy plants is rising at an amazing pace.

Thailand is now South-East Asia’s biggest solar power producer. Renewables are the energy source of the future and it is good to know that Thailand is preparing for it.

Solar power generation is of course also interesting as a residential installation. As Thailand is situated in the tropics, the country’s clear days and strong sun provide regular energy for solar panels.

There are currently two methods to use solar energy: 1/ photovoltaic solar cells that change sunlight directly into electricity and 2/ solar thermal collectors for the purpose of either direct heating or indirect electrical power generation.

The author of this article, Fabian Doppler, has been a lawyer for various environmental groups over the years, including Phuket-based SEEK. He is a partner at FRANK Legal & Tax.

 

 

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