Insights and Opportunities
Overview: The market demand for renewable/alternative energy equipment in Thailand is growing in correlation with the country’s renewable energy demand and economic growth. A recent increase in the use of renewable / alternative energy for both electricity generation and fuels has been on the rise. Thailand's Energy Ministry plans to increase the proportion of alternative energy consumption in the country to 14% from the previously projected 11% level.
Production of renewable/alternative energy is expected to increase to about 3,276 megawatts (MW) from the 1,621 megawatts available now. The current energy supply from renewable and alternative energy in 2007 was 17,031 ktoe, an increase of 2.2% from 2006 in types such as solar, wind, biomass, biogas, municipal sewage waste, bio-diesel and ethanol. The total renewable energy consumption was 10,993 ktoe in 2007, an increase of 1.6% from 2006, and accounted for 17.4% of the total energy consumption. Even though firm evidence is limited, there is far greater potential for the use of renewable energy in the long term than can be verified and modeled today as the current market for such equipment is on the rise. There are more substantial environmental benefits from renewable energy, such as decreasing greenhouse effects, and reducing gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide and many other industrial chemicals.
The Ministry of Energy has revised up the proportion of renewable energy in the country’s total energy consumption in 2011 from 11% to 14% from 2006 to 2007, respectively - in line with the study by the ministry, which found strong potential for renewable energy and predicted the continuing upward trend of oil prices over the next several years.
Wind: There is considerable potential for wind energy on a larger scale in Thailand, especially in the center and in the Western regions of the country. The wind current in Thailand is rather light, thus it has been frequently overlooked. Unlike large wind turbines manufactured for the European and U.S. markets; the country needs small-sized wind turbines to comply with local conditions. The present capacity of low speed wind turbines in Thailand is 400-1000 watts. The two major obstacles in using such turbines is the cost per unit of electricity generation and the lack of investment in Thailand for the low speed turbines. However, Thailand does forecast a large increase in use in the near future as these issues will be overcome. The types of equipment currently in demand are low wind turbines (horizontal and vertical). Thailand is in vast need of large wind turbine suppliers, as they cannot produce such equipment alone. Major suppliers of large wind turbines include: Finland, Australia, Spain, and Germany.
Hydro: The government has been sponsoring development projects of small hydro power plants for a new planned capacity of 350 MW. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) are the main institutions involved with mini- and micro-hydro power plants. DEDE has also installed many village-level hydropower plants, and there is considerable potential for village-scale small hydro in east and central Thailand.
Biomass: Though there are many and diverse sources for biomass that could be used for energy, in many cases the businesses that have biomass residue streams are likely unaware of the potential opportunities for their businesses. For example, there are agricultural residues such as tree leaves, corn cobs, hay, and rice husk and other residues such as wood chip and saw dust that all can be used as fuel in the biomass power plants for electricity generation. Also, wood furniture alone from industrial factories can be recycled to produce over 10,000 tons per annum. All these residues can be used to produce electricity in plants using the pyrolysis/gasification technology. Equipment for such technology includes: wood chippers, gas filters, gasifiers, and generators. With commercial viability possible even without any subsidies and at capacities exceeding 2000 MW, the now established targets and subsidies for biomass and renewable energies are expected to deliver at least 900 MW of new biomass capacity by 2011.
Solar: Thailand currently uses solar cells for electricity generation and solar thermal unites for thermal. Although the use of solar energy is not big in the country for reasons by the years. Local administration organizations in every province, municipalities, Provincial Administration Organizations (PAO), and Tambol (sub-district) Administration Organizations (TAO) are paying particular attention to solar cells as they are becoming increasingly important in rural remote areas, where there are no electricity transmission lines known as off-grid connections. The cells can undoubtedly be used for electricity generation for lighting systems on roads and energy for wastewater pumping in wastewater treatment systems. Potential penetration in the Thai market has seen a particular interest in the new technology known as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) from the U.S.
A growing number of best prospects for fuels, oil, hydropower, wind power and diesel equipment and technology are in demand as there are developing plans underway. Specifically, generators and accessories, plant machinery and equipment are in high demand as the government along with government agencies and state owned enterprises such as the Ministry of Energy and the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) are investing high amounts as they see a bright future for renewable and alternative energy.
The DEDE has invested 201 million Baht in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani as part of its attempt to boost the proportion of alternative fuels consumption. However, funding must be provided by the central government as well to include the main projects such as: A hydropower project in Narathiwat and Yala; A wind power project in Patttani; and Biodiesel projects in Narathiwat, Yala and some 20 communities.
Additionally, due to a recent boost for palm oil, which is a major resource used for biofuel, the Ministry of Energy and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives have made a preliminary agreement to establish an 8- billion-Baht soft loan package. Under the scheme, the total area for palm plantation will increase 500,000 rais or 80,000 hectares a year.
EGAT- the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand is currently developing an extensive amount of research and development from waste-to-energy systems supporting all projects which deal with generation of electricity through renewable energies. EGAT is also looking to invest in small wind turbines for wind energy. Bangkok Biofuel signed an agreement with Universal Absorbents and Chemicals in early 2008 to invest one billion Baht, through a new 70:30 joint venture company called Bangchak Biofuel, to build a biodiesel production center in Bang Pa-in, Ayuddhaya. Furthermore, the biodiesel plant will supply 300,000-liter/day. If the government’s campaign to promote gasohol and biodiesel is not disrupted, gasohol and biodiesel consumption will account for 15% of the country’s total oil consumption in 2008.