Renewable Energy Grows Bigger in Bangkok

Against the backdrop of severe climate impacts and rising oil prices, renewable energy experts met with governments, businesses and community groups to spur developments and market growth for clean renewable energy, such as wind and solar, in Southeast Asia.

Bangkok, Thailand – August 19, 2003 [] “Southeast Asia is in the best position to take advantage of year-long availability of energy from the sun and wind,” said Dr. Jiragorn Gajaseni, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “These types of energy sources are not only good for the region’s environment; but [they] take away our dependence on fossil fuels, like oil and coal, which are already manifesting devastating impacts on the world’s climate.” The two-day seminar entitled “In Search for Clean Energy Alternatives: Thailand and South East Asian Countries” brought together European governments like Germany and the United Kingdom; Thailand’s Ministry of Energy and agencies like the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), the Energy Policy Planning Office (EPPO); as well as non-governmental groups like the European Wind Energy Association, Sustainable Energy Network of Thailand, and Preferred Energy Investment from Philippines. The gathering discussed and put forward a framework for investment, development and policies on renewable energy projects in Southeast Asia. “Being mainly an agricultural society, farmers in Southeast Asia can play a big role in the development of renewable energy, like farmers do in Europe,” said Hans-Peter Ahmels, Chief Executive Officer of the German Wind Energy Association and a farmer himself. He added that in Europe, farmers harvest electricity derived from solar and wind alongside their crops of corn and potatoes. According to Greenpeace, in the year 2000 new renewable energy sources provided 4.6 percent of the world’s energy supply. The group is now calling for acceleration of investments in clean energy. “We urge governments around the world to have legally binding agreements to double the amount of renewable energy to 10 percent within ten years through incentives and policies,” said Sven Teske, Energy campaigner of Greenpeace Germany. He said that after the failure of the World Summit on Sustainable Development to address the pressing issue of climate change, governments will be able to get their acts together at the International Conference for Renewable Energies 2004 to be held next year in Bonn, Germany. Greenpeace said that despite little regulatory support, wind and solar power both registered exponential growth rates of 30 to 40 percent in the past two years. According to Greenpeace, wind power has maintained its status as the world’s fastest growing energy source. At the beginning of year 2003, global wind power installations have reached 32,000 MW, enough to satisfy the needs of up to 40 million people. Greenpeace predicts that wind power will provide 12 percent of the world’s electricity by 2020. Solar energy, on the other hand, supplies electricity to several hundred thousand people around the world, provides employment for over 10,000 people, and generates business in excess of US$1 billion. Greenpeace says that solar power can help meet the needs of some 2 billion people in poor countries, including those in Southeast Asia, where proper energy infrastructure does not exist. Greenpeace has been campaigning for a shift in investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy due to the urgent need to combat global climate change, which is caused by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. According to Greenpeace, in recent weeks, climate change wreaked havoc worldwide, sending heat waves in Europe and floods in Asia. The environmental group says that an international consensus is imperative to prevent one of the most threatening environmental issues facing mankind. To illustrate their points, Greenpeace has made available scientific research papers entitled “Wind Force 12: A Blueprint to Achieve 12 Percent of the World’s Electricity from Windpower by 2020″ and ” Solar Generation: Solar Electricity for Over 1 Billion People and 2 Million Jobs by 2020.”
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