Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide in Thailand are gathering momentum as the government and businesses forge ahead with clean energy development projects.
Using more renewable fuel sources to generate electricity and the government's promotion of electric vehicles (EVs) are among various efforts to create new businesses, driven by a commitment to take greater care of the environment.
Companies that are not ecologically aware can face penalties, while those that seek to limit environmental damage may gain certain advantages.
Among the punishments is the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), initiated by the EU to impose charges on manufacturers that fail to follow practices that produce less harm for the environment.
As CBAM is an EU law, it mainly effect Thai export products.
Two economic tools -- carbon credits and renewable energy certificates -- along with clean energy projects are providing gentler ways to combat global warming.
Egat's floating solar power farm, with a capacity of 45MW, is located in a reservoir at Sirindhorn Dam in Ubon Ratchathani province. The company will continue to generate renewable power to serve its REC trade.
Business operators are commercialising efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by trading carbon credits.
Carbon credit trading allows companies to sell carbon credits from reduced emissions to other organisations that want to lower emissions, but are unable to reach their reduction targets.
The term carbon credits refers to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions reduced via environmental projects, including clean energy development. The amount can be sold to other companies to offset the carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere.
SET-listed Energy Absolute (EA), a renewable energy and EV developer and operator, is among the companies reaping the benefits from clean power and EV projects.
The company operates wind and solar farms with a combined electricity generation capacity of 278 megawatts. This enables EA to sell carbon credits, amounting to 4.35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) a year, said Vasu Klomkriang, EA's senior vice-president for investment planning.
In 2021, the company was certified under the Thailand Voluntary Emission Reduction Program (T-VER) to sell 794,151 tCO2e, he said.
EA is a member of T-VER, initiated in 2014 by the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization, a public entity established to encourage both government agencies and companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily.
Last year, EA signed an agreement to sell carbon credits from its battery-powered buses to the Switzerland-based Foundation for Climate Protection and Carbon Offset, widely known as the Klik Foundation.
The project, co-developed by EA and South Pole Co, promotes the use of electric buses in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces to replace diesel or compressed natural gas-powered buses.
Waste-to-energy development is among the renewable energy projects Absolute Clean Energy wants to emphasise.
The amount of carbon credits sold to the Klik Foundation was not revealed.
EA said carbon credits from this project would support Bern's campaign to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% domestically by 2030 from the level recorded in 1990.
This form of carbon credit trade is among international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which encourages participating countries to work together to fight global warming.
EA assembles electric buses at its factory in Chachoengsao.
The company focuses on the development of commercial EVs because buses, boats and trucks have large bodies that require a huge amount of diesel to power their internal combustion engines, said Sompote Ahunai, chief executive of EA.
Diesel engines emit carbon dioxide and as they age become a major source of PM2.5 dust, which is so tiny it can easily get lodged in people's lungs, causing breathing difficulties.
Another company that's keen on carbon credit trading is Thachang Green Energy Plc (TGE), a biomass power plant developer and operator.
The company announced late last year its 9.9MW power plant, run by subsidiary Thachang Power Green Co, had credits amounting to 33,964 tCO2e per year certified by the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization, said Sakda Siriphatsophon, chief executive of TGE.
Thachang Power Green uses agricultural refuse as fuel for its electricity generation.
The trading period lasts for 14 years, so the sales provide another long-term source of revenue in addition to the power tariff granted for the electricity Thachang Power Green sells to the Provincial Electricity Authority, a state power distribution arm.
Another 9.9MW power plant, operated by subsidiary Thachang Bio Power Co, is scheduled to have carbon credits certified by the organisation this year.
TGE's biomass power plant in Surat Thani uses refuse from the palm crushing process. The company wants to benefit from carbon credit trade.
The state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) is pushing ahead with the trade of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to help the government and companies achieve their carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.
RECs are an economic incentive aimed at encouraging power plant owners to produce electricity from clean fuels.
Each REC, which certifies that the bearer generates one megawatt-hour (MWh) from renewable energy resources, can be traded as an energy commodity.
This market-based instrument was introduced at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference, also known as the Paris Agreement.
Through its subsidiary InnoPower Co, Egat aims to trade more than 1 million RECs, said Warit Rattanachuen, Egat's assistant governor for research, innovation and business development.
"We have to follow this global trend. I expect foreign firms to buy RECs as they have policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at their factories," he said.
"Foreign investors delayed their decisions regarding the expansion of production facilities into Southeast Asia during the pandemic, but they will come to the region this year."
Egat sold its first RECs to Toyota Motor Thailand in 2020.
The Japanese company bought 10,000 RECs for 500,000 baht from Egat.
RECs support the company's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025, according to Toyota Motor Thailand. The purchase indicates that part of the automaker's production costs went to promoting renewable energy.
Egat converted the electricity output to the REC format from its 78.7MW Mae Klong hydropower plant in Kanchanaburi. This plant is categorised as a pilot project.
The authority adopted RECs in 2019 and has been authorised by the Netherlands-based International REC Standard to certify power plants participating in the scheme.
A BCPG solar farm in Ang Thong's Wiset Chai Chan district.
RENEWABLE ENERGY PUSH
More power generation from renewable sources is being developed as Thailand wants to significantly increase its supply of clean energy.
According to energy officials, Thailand aims to have renewable energy make up 50% of all fuels used for electricity generation in the country within 2036. In 2021, the proportion was 11%.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is encouraging companies to participate in the second phase of its renewable power scheme, with total generation capacity of 3.6 gigawatts.
The first phase had a capacity of 5.2GW and ERC selected 175 companies. Among these were Gulf Energy Development, Thailand's largest power producer by market value, B.Grimm Power Plc, Absolute Clean Energy Plc, Thai Solar Energy Plc and BCPG, the power generation arm of Bangchak Group.
Under the second phase, the new projects are to consist of developing on-ground solar farms and on-ground solar farms with energy storage systems (2,632MW), wind power (1,000MW), biogas (335MW), and industrial waste-to-energy projects (30MW).
The government announced in 2021 during the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow that Thailand would be more serious in addressing climate change and strive to reach carbon neutrality, a balance between carbon dioxide emissions and absorption, by 2050.