Esco fund to allot B2.5bn to go green

Authorities plan to add 2.5 billion baht to the fund that helps businesses improve energy use.

The Energy Ministry's Esco fund will make the money available in the form of soft loans from the middle of this year, according to the Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency Department.

Director general Amnuay Thongsathitya said the new funds would support investments in clean and renewable energy, as well as energy efficiency improvements.

"This is the third phase of development. The first and second phases [of the Esco fund], launched in 2008 and 2009 with a combined amount of 4 billion baht, received a very warm welcome from businesses when the global oil prices hit US$140 per barrel," said Mr Amnuay.

The fund helped companies set up energy-saving and energy-efficiency projects worth over 30 billion baht and the investments had already been paid back, he added.

Mr Amnuay said companies in the manufacturing and services sectors were interested in energy-saving activities because global oil prices are unlikely to fall below $100 in the coming years while electricity cost is on the rise.

Thailand imported 1.2 trillion baht worth of fuels last year and the amount will continue to grow rapidly unless more energy-saving activities are implemented.

The Esco fund provides grants and loans both to energy services companies (Esco) and directly to firms interested in streamlining their energy use. Currently, there are 60 Escos providing advanced energy-saving services to companies keen to cut energy bills.

Arthit Vechakij, president of the Thai Esco Association, said Thailand is the leader in Southeast Asia and Thai Escos aim to expand businesses to other countries in the region.

Support from the government, banks and the Federation of Thai Industries has helped develop the Esco business substantially over past several years.

Once the Asean Economic Community is established in 2016, the business will be more competitive and cost management will be a key factor for operators to compete, noted Mr Arthit.

About the author

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Writer: Yuthana Praiwan
Position: Business Reporter