Interview : Bundit Sapianchai
How is Thailand proceeding with its plans to address climate concerns, following the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement?
BUNDIT SAPIANCHAI: Global warming has been recognised by almost everybody, and countries have started to promote and pursue green energy. In the very early days green technology was very expensive and thus had to be subsidised by the government. Today, the cost of producing green energy is very low. It is affordable and becoming increasingly competitive compared to conventional methods of energy production.
There are many ways to reduce energy costs, including building conventional coal-fired power plants, constructing renewable energy power plants and managing energy more efficiently. With the support of utilities companies, the regulators are developing new rules and regulations to allow individuals and communities to sell their excess energy production to the national power grid.
I am confident this transition to renewable energy will happen in 2018, as the industry is shifting from a centralised, conventional, consumer-centric model to a distributed, smarter, prosumer-centric one.
In what ways can businesses and individuals be further incentivised to contribute to the market?
BUNDIT: Everybody in Thailand is now well aware of global warming issues. As such, no incentives need to be created because the notions of low cost and low carbon are already a natural incentive for people and businesses. The new generation is very active in addressing global warming. They know that by having their own low-cost, low-carbon energy source, they will be playing a constructive role in efforts to combat climate change and reduce their contribution to carbon retention in the atmosphere.
However, if we look at it from a more commercial perspective, energy production by individuals and businesses is very attractive for all parties. As producers sell to the national grid, they will also reduce demand as they depend to some extent on their own energy source. Therefore, this structure reduces the government’s requirement to invest in building large-scale power plants to meet the growing demand for electricity.
What challenges do you foresee with the implementation of blockchain technology in the distribution of renewable energy?
BUNDIT: In a market that is shifting towards a decentralised model, blockchain is proving to be the most suitable technology as it is a distributed and uncorrupted ledger system. Within this structure, people are able to produce and resell power on a peer-to-peer basis, where the middleman is removed from the equation. When used in renewable micro-grid developments, blockchain technology allows for efficient installation and operation capacity that is accessible to prosumers. Blockchain technology is all about transparency, which is beneficial for transactional purposes and can assist the transition to a distributed energy model.
That being said, blockchain technology can be used beyond peer-to-peer energy trading. It could also be utilised to create more value out of the green electron produced behind the meter, with the utility side of the meter services covering the promotion energy efficiency and initiatives to respond to demand, for instance. At the end of the day, it all comes down to understanding blockchain technologies and how companies can pioneer its usage in terms of energy management in Thailand. Many countries have already made a positive start on understanding the new technologies, whereas Thailand is still discussing how best to manage and regulate this area. If blockchain technology is harnessed correctly, power will be given back to the people, which could in turn contribute to the democratisation of energy.
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