SME energy-efficiency loans slated for 2016

SME energy-efficiency loans slated for 2016

B10bn tranche to spur change of equipment

People are playing with their phones while waiting for charging up battery at 'Solar Charger Station'. The station provide free phone battery charge for every attendants at Queen Sirikit Centre on February 24, 2015. (Bangkok Post file photo)
People are playing with their phones while waiting for charging up battery at 'Solar Charger Station'. The station provide free phone battery charge for every attendants at Queen Sirikit Centre on February 24, 2015. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Another tranche of soft loans to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to switch to energy-saving machinery and equipment is expected to be ready for disbursement next year, says the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE).

Director-general Thammayot Srichuai said the loans would total 10 billion baht, helping SMEs seeking to modify machines or replace ageing equipment with energy-saving units.

Of the total, some 4 billion baht in soft loans would be from the Energy Conservation Fund. The remaining 6 billion would be from commercial banks, which would also help disburse the loans to SMEs.

The interest rate will be below 3.5% and each company could receive up to 50 million baht in loans, he said.

The official launching ceremony for the programme is in January, said Mr Thammayot.

The repayment period for loans is expected to be a maximum of four years, while the scheme is expected to cut energy consumption by 10%-20%, he said.

Mr Thammayot said the ice-making and cold storage industries are target sectors for the loans as they are classified as energy-consuming industries, with energy making up 60-70% of their production costs.

He said office buildings would be another target group, with the government encouraging them to change air conditioners, which consume around 40% of electricity. Some 10% of power in buildings is consumed by lighting.

Mr Thammayot said it was an appropriate time for companies to change equipment because of the global economic slowdown and cheap oil prices, making the cost of changing equipment lower.

A switch should help companies be ready to compete when oil and energy prices rebound.

Deputy Energy Minister Nattipon Kanokchot said the country's policymakers encouraged both state agencies and private companies to change to energy-efficient equipment.

The Energy Ministry is in talks with the Finance Ministry to rejig some regulations on budget payments to encourage state agencies to change equipment.

He said if the plan was accomplished, there would be dozens more state buildings in the energy-saving programme, including state schools, universities, hospitals and local administration offices.

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