Expert urges action to prevent energy crisis

The government should be promoting energy-efficient buildings to help avert possible electricity shortages within the next 20 years, an academic says.

The country's power consumption is expected to double by 2030, Surapong Chirarattananon, a lecturer at the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, said.

Electricity usage will climb along with Thailand's population, which is expected to hit 70 million in 2030, he said during a recent energy seminar.

Much of the power demand will come from urban centres, Mr Surapong said, noting that the number of people living in cities is expected to reach 64% of the total population by 2030, up from 43% at present. This migration to urban centres will drive up power consumption in cities, he said.

Commercial buildings lead power consumption at 35%, followed by department stores (15%), hypermarkets (13%), hotels (11%) and condominiums (8%).

It has been estimated that the electricity consumed by commercial buildings nationwide will go up to 60,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2030, from 20,000 GWh at present.

A large portion of energy is used for air conditioning and lighting, Mr Surapong said. "Increased electricity consumption will undermine the country's energy stability," he said, urging the government to promote energy-saving buildings as called for under the 1992 Energy Conservation Act.

He said energy-saving measures and regulations for commercial buildings which were introduced under the 1992 law have not been fully implemented and have become outdated. "We have had plans to save energy but they have not been fully enforced," he said.

"With new technology and tougher law enforcement, we can save more than 50% of energy used at present."

The 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2012-2016) aims to reduce power use by households nationwide from 68,000 GWh at present to 32,500 GWh by 2030; and by large buildings from 60,000 GWh now to 23,000 GWh by 2030.

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Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Position: Reporter