Building a sustainable future

Businesses and consumers alike are adopting solar power to achieve carbon neutrality

Clad in face masks, urban dwellers brave not only the coronavirus but also smog. Bangkok has been suffocating in polluted air from various sources that release greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

In 2019, Thailand reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17%. It has vowed to reduce it by 20-25% by 2030. The government recently unveiled the National Energy Plan. Approved in August, its framework pledges to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070. Pathways include generating 50% of electricity from renewable sources, promoting electric vehicles, upgrading the power grid, and relaxing rules for prosumers.

However, a timely solution is needed for speeding up the transition to clean energy. A report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms that global temperature rose by 1.09C between 2011-2020 and will hit the 1.5C safe threshold by 2040 under all emission scenarios.

Bangkok Solar Power’s solar sites. (Photos: Bangkok Solar Power)

Considering this, companies are joining hands to promote the use of clean power in cities. Many cutting-edge projects are textbook examples of how businesses can take the lead in creating urban sustainability.

"We believe our U-Solar programme can help contribute to the progress of the solar power industry in Thailand," said Tan Choon Hin, the president and chief executive of UOB Thailand. "We can play a part in building a greener future for the country."

The U-Solar programme is Asia's first solar ecosystem which encourages businesses to adopt renewable energy. It is also available in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The programme offers not only financing solutions for developers but also one-stop services for end users.

UOB Thailand has worked with leading Smart Energy Solutions company Banpu NEXT and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors, including Bangkok Solar Power and K.G. Solar, to offer solar power services.

Banpu NEXT, a subsidiary of Banpu PCL, is a leading Smart Energy Solutions provider in the region. It has developed five solutions -- smart data analytics, smart energy generation, smart energy storage, smart energy utilisation, and smart circular economy -- to enable the country's smart city development such as in Chonburi and Phuket.

Rugby School Thailand is more than a British international school in Pattaya. It incorporates smart energy solutions of Banpu NEXT. While data analytics is used to monitor and reduce energy consumption, solar energy generation offers electricity from a clean source. It also uses electric vehicles such as tuk-tuks, bikes, scooters, with charging stations available. It also manages food waste following the circular economy model.

Phuket is also breaking new ground by offering a green tourism experience with its first electric ferry. Besides travelling comfortably under high standards, it provides energy-saving and eco-friendly advantages. Using clean energy from a lithium-ion battery storage system, there is no risk of an oil spill or noise and air pollution.

Rugby School Thailand in Pattaya incorporates smart energy solutions of Banpu NEXT to ensure the use of clean energy. (Photo: Banpu Next)

Meanwhile, two other contractors are promoting the adoption of solar rooftops. Bangkok Solar Power, a subsidiary of Bangkok Cable Group, is using its experience in electrical cables and wiring business to provide solar power solutions for domestic and international markets. It has expanded its business into Germany and Japan.

The energy firm has installed solar panels at companies and shopping malls. For example, Central Plaza shopping centres, Robinson department stores, and the Sermthai Maha Sarakham Shopping Mall all feature solar rooftops. It has also forged private power purchase agreements with companies such as Siam Compressor Industry to install solar panels at its factories.

It has also installed solar rooftops on university campuses. While Rajanagarindra Rajabhat University's Chachoengsao Campus features solar rooftops, Thammasat University's Rangsit Campus also includes a solar rooftop car park system.

It is undeniable that solar power cannot be generated at night or optimised during the rainy season. However, the company is developing a battery-based energy storage system. This technology will allow excess solar power to be stored in batteries and used when the sun goes down.

Similarly, K.G. Solar offers one-stop solar power services to companies and homeowners to accelerate the region's transition to clean energy. By installing solar cells, they can reduce electricity costs in the long run and protect the environment.

The energy solution provider has helped leading plants and enterprises install solar panels such as BMW's manufacturing plant in Thailand, Toyota Motor Thailand, CK Power, and more. Solar rooftops can lower costs by half a million baht a month and reduce electricity use by up to 50%.

It has also installed solar rooftops at residences. Households can choose three types of solar cells -- on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid -- at different levels of generation capacity. Prosumers can also sell electricity from solar power generation to the government or rent their rooftops.

As long as the city is powered by electricity that comes from unrenewable sources, it continues to pollute the environment and warm the planet. However, these efforts demonstrate that we can join hands to ensure an urban transition to a sustainable future.

Building Sustainable Cities is a 13-part series that explores essential elements & insights on how individuals and businesses can take action to forge a cleaner, greener tomorrow in collaboration with UOB Thailand. You can view the whole series here

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