The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is investing in a 120-million-baht pilot biomass gasification project in Saraburi.
"We have already chosen a company to jointly invest in the project. The construction will take around one year to complete," said Pichai Tinsuntisook, chairman of the FTI's renewable energy industry club.
"At present, there is no small-scale gasification plant that can sell power with the efficiency up to standard."
At present, Thailand has a 120-megawatt gasification plant but it does not generate much electricity.
With transferred technology from Spain, the one-megawatt plant is expected to start operation in December this year, he said.
Members of the FTI are set to invest 60 million baht in the project with 30 million baht each coming from the Science and Technology Ministry and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).
"Our concern about this project is that the government does not understand what it is really about and related ministries aren't cooperating enough," noted Mr Pichai.
He cited jatropha as an example of an unsuccessful case, seven years ago. The government needs to gain an understanding with farmers and communities to make the project a success, he said.
Besides, there is the issue of food versus fuel as the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry is telling farmers to plant only food crops, the advice that goes against the Energy Ministry's policy.
"We need to strike a balance and see what kind of crops are worth the adder or feed in tariff costs," said Mr Pichai.
Under this project, farmers will be encouraged to plant fast-growing crops, while the Nong Kae municipality in Saraburi will provide 30 tonnes of waste a day for the multi feed-stick gasification plant. He targets five plants will be set up within the next three years.
"If there is no proven successful project of this kind, the bank will not extend loans to such investments. Currently, banks are not providing loans for gasification plants," said Mr Pichai, also president of Royal Equipment Co.
Mr Pichai that said at present, thousands of new renewable energy companies have been registered.
"We are concerned that there will be some kind of speculation [in the alternative energy sector] in Thailand without real investment because many people want to invest in this sector," he said.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter