Thailand may win a USD 3.1 billion loan for green projects

Mr Krairit Nilkuha director general of the DEDE said that the department planned to use the money to help finance 70% to 80% of the total investment in clean energy technology, particularly by state owned projects. Privately owned projects will be screened by the Export Import Bank of Thailand and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co operatives.

He expects the World Bank will start to provide the loans under the Clean Technology Fund this year. Thailand would be the fourth country in the world to receive CTF support, following Turkey, Mexico and Egypt, where funds are going to transport using clean technology.

Mr Krairit believes Thailand qualified because the country has a clear direction to develop green energy projects in order to cope with climate change and has plentiful resources of materials.

The BAAC and the Exim Bank are expected to approve USD 800 million or THB 28 billion in loans to private companies’ projects. Borrowers would be charged the minimum lending rate plus 0.25%. Candidates would include operators holding government concessions for USD 290 million worth of biomass energy projects in 340 communities.

More than 100 concession holders for wind power and solar power ventures could also seek CTF loans. By 2011, the Energy Ministry expects wind turbines to generate 115 MW of wind energy and solar cells 50 MW, up from less than one MW at present.

Majority state owned projects using clean technology include a 224 MW wind power plant, solar cells and mini hydro power plants worth a total of THB 579 million developed by the Electricity Generation Authority of Thailand.

The Provincial Electricity Authority, meanwhile, is working with the Forestry Industry Organisation, which is developing 100 biomass plants worth USD 230 million. These projects would use fuel wood and have a total capacity of 100 MW.

Wind Energy

The average wind speed in Thailand is moderate to rather low, usually lower than 4 meters per second; therefore, wind energy is currently used almost exclusively for propelling rooftop ventilators and water-pumping turbines. High wind speed along the coastline, however, may have the potential for power generation.

In Thailand, studies have been undertaken on wind energy development, particularly for power generation. A wind resource assessment of Thailand has been developed, showing details of wind resource distribution, prevailing wind, wind speed and directions, and other characteristics pertaining to potentialities of wind energy in various regions nationwide.

Currently, a further detailed study is being carried out in areas where the wind potential is high, mainly along the southern coastlines from Nakhon Si Thammarat Province downwards, to obtain more data with a view to determining the feasibility to develop projects using wind energy for power generation.

DEDE, the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, pointed that Thailand wind energy development is more progressive in feeding into a grid connected power generation system. With a confidence to feed the power into the
system at 800 MW by 2013 and boost to study the new wind direction map.

Mr Krairit Nilkuha, the DEDE Director-General, stated that wind energy development in Thailand, to be one of the country alternative energy resource for generating electricity, has more progress after more interests of private sector in investment for wind turbine production. There are 115 makers already applied for at total capacity of 1,900 MW.

This is believed that a target of utilsing wind energy for power generation at 115 MW by 2011 would be as planned whereas the wind potentials are at several sites that capably install the wind turbines, either in the northeast, the upper central region, the sea shores, for ex: Petchboon, Nakorn Ratchasima, Nakorn Srithammarat, Pattani.

Besides, DEDE has an ongoing study to make a new wind direction map with higher efficiency that expected to finish within a year. That will have more accuracy of wind direction from a height level of 40-90 m. This will make Thailand utilised wind energy for grid-connected power generation at 800 MW or 20 percent of total alternative energy resources for generating electricity.

Nakhon Ratchasima is home to Thailand’s largest wind turbine power plant. The plant is located on the upper reservoir of Lamtakhong dam. A feasibility study found that the area is potentially ideal for setting up the wind turbine because it is mountainous, isolated from communities, and open to the annual northeastern and southwestern monsoons, which yield an average wind speed of five to six meters a minute.

According to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, two sets of 68-meter-high wind turbines with a total capacity of 2.5 megawatts have been installed there, at an investment of 145 million baht. The electricity-generating system of the Lamtakhong wind power plant employs German technology, while the wind turbined towers are made in China. The wind turbines can supply 4.6 million units of electric power a year, lighting up 4,800 households in Nakhon Ratchasima. This can reduce the use of fuel by 11 million liters a year and the emission of green house gases by up to 2,300 tons a year.

Thailand kicked off the study of wind energy development in 1983, followed by installation of a pilot wind turbine plant on the Phromthep strait in Phuket in 1992. Its total installed capacity is 180 kilowatts. In 1997, 45 sets of wind turbines with 4.5-kilowatt capacity each have been installed on Lan island, off the shore of Pattaya.

The Lamtakhong wind farm is just part of the increasing development of wind energy in Thailand. The plant is projected as a new tourist destination and landmark for Nakhon Ratchasima, while promoting the country’s green energy policy.