Thailand’s political parties push renewable power

Construction News
Roof-top solar panels at a power production facility located in Krathum Baen district, Samut Sakhon province, which has power-generating capacity of three megawatts.

Thailand’s political parties push renewable power

14 March 2019

Encouraging and promoting the development of renewable energy in the industrial sector should be a top priority to improve the economy over the next decade amid increasingly sophisticated disruptive technology, according to major political parties.

The Fellowship of Energy Reform for Sustainability held a debate yesterday about the parties’ energy policies, with many party representatives pushing renewable power, biofuels and electric vehicles (EVs) as the next step for the sector.

Atthawit Suwanpakdee, an MP candidate from the Democrat Party, said renewable resources are expected to account for a quarter of Thailand’s power generation in the power development plan, up from 5% now.

The national oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc should be promoted to spearhead the renewable power sector, he said.

“PTT should be the leader of the green energy sector. The energy and power sectors also have to be deregulated to create a more competitive environment,” said Mr Atthawit.

He said solar power should be promoted for households, enabling them to sell excess power to others, similar to power companies.

Meanwhile, the EV scheme should continue to be promoted by the government as this new generation of vehicles is a game changer in the automotive industry, said Mr Atthawit.

For biofuels, the Democrat Party will support biodiesel B10 (10% methyl ester content) from crude palm oil.

Apart from palm oil, other farm products like cassava and sugar cane should be promoted as biofuels because they can generate higher income for farmers.

Saksiam Chidchob, a representative from Bhumjaithai Party, agreed biofuels are key to increasing farmers’ income.

“Profit-sharing should be implemented for growers of cassava and palm oil, similar to the growers of sugar cane,” said Mr Saksiam.

The current system offers 70:30 profit-sharing for sugar cane, in which 70% of total sugar revenue made each year goes to farmers, with the remaining 30% allotted to millers. For biofuels, he said 30% of the profit-sharing should go to biofuel refiners.

Mr Saksiam said last year Thailand imported crude oil valued at 600 billion baht. Once the country increases biofuel consumption, it should spend less on importing crude oil.

However, the Bhumjaithai Party will not support solar and wind power projects because those two resources rely on the import of components and equipment to generate power.

“They are not worthy enough to invest in to try and create returns for the economy,” said Mr Saksiam.

Santi Kiranand, a representative from the Palang Pracharath Party, said Thailand should revamp its overall energy consumption, but a subsidy for energy prices is only needed for essential cases such as for low-income earners.

“Capping energy prices should be done in the short term to avoid higher living costs, but in the long term a subsidy would distort the market mechanism,” said Mr Santi.

He said PTT must remain listed on the stock market to maintain confidence in the firm, but it should spearhead new innovations in the energy sector.

Sirikanya Tansakun, director of political policies for the Future Forward Party, said the challenge for the energy sector is how to consume oil while releasing lower emissions and PM particles.

“The party supports biofuel consumption and expansion of the mass transit system nationwide,” she said.