Recycling and Renewable Energy in Thailand

Information on renewable energies, recycling and environmental laws and policies in Thailand...

Since 1992 Thailand has had a plan to develop renewable energy and reduce energy dependency. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency's (DEDE) heads these efforts.

Renewable Energy

In 2006 the government implemented an "Energy Policy and Development Plan" from the National Energy Policy Council (NEPC). This is a further development of the Thailand Energy Conservation Act of 1992. The aim of this plan is to restructure and improve energy industry management and to promote alternative energy. A variety of renewable energy options along with energy efficiency are included in the strategy.

Government incentives are used to encourage the use of renewable sources. For facts and figures for 2014 visit the Alternative Energy and Information Center. (pdf)

Renewable energy sources

There is a huge potential for solar and wind power in Thailand but until recently a lack of funding and technology prevented them from becoming commercially viable. Both of these options are now being invested in to meet government targets. There are several solar photovoltaic (PV) projects operating successfully, even though they typically incur large start-up costs.

Small scale hydro-power systems have proved promising but high costs of materials, equipment and expertise are limiting their construction.

Biomass offers one of the most promising sources of potential energy. Sources of biomass in Thailand include fuel wood, rice husks, bagasse, coconuts, corn cobs and distillery slop. Biogas can also be derived from animal dung and cassava.

Further information about the use of renewable energy in Thailand can be found at the following links:

Environmental Laws

The following links have information about laws to protect the environment in Thailand:

Transport and Air Pollution

The transport sector demands the largest proportion of energy and is responsible for most oil imports. These account for almost half of the country's energy supply. Biofuel is especially important as an alternative for the transport sector, because of Thailand's ability to produce locally the raw materials.

The rapid increase in the number of motor vehicles in Thailand has led to major air pollution problems in Bangkok and other large cities. Ambient air quality standards have been designated in response to this, but implementation of these standards is variable at best, for a number of reasons. As a result, the air quality at congested roadsides in Bangkok rarely meets the national air quality standard.

There has been much pressure on the government to reduce traffic, especially in Bangkok. There are several efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Mass transport systems such as the BTS or Metro have been built and will be extended in the future and have already considerably improved Bangkok's air quality.

Natural gas is promoted as a replacement to oil and there are plans to increase palm oil production which is already used for the production of biodiesel.

Tax Incentives and Government Subsidies

Incentives to encourage the use of renewable energy sources include tax reductions, the possibility of increased fees when selling power to the grid and Board of Investment (BOI) promotions. The BOI offers several privileges for various investments involved with energy conservation and alternative energy. Investment projects are entitled to exemption from import duty on machinery and an eight-year cap-free exemption on corporate tax.

  • Visit the Thailand Board of Investment to see which activities are eligible


Recycling

The Thai government has made efforts to encourage the promotion of the 3 Rs: reduce, re-use and recycle, although there is no formal recycling scheme. Some financial and technical support has been given to local governments to improve waste management. As a result, successful recycling projects have been implemented in the private sector and in some local communities. More private recycling businesses are popping up throughout the country. One particularly successful company is Wongpanit which has 400 branches across the country.

There is no organised rubbish collection in many rural areas. Traditionally, waste in rural areas was mainly organic and food waste which can be used as fuel and animal feed. However, the introduction of plastic food wrappers and household items has resulted in litter problems.

Residents separate some items from their waste to sell to street buyers. Waste collectors and pickers separate recyclable material from rubbish in dustbins, trash cans and from landfills. The larger businesses can sell some materials directly to the recycling factories. Together, they salvage approximately 22 percent of urban waste.

Materials that are regularly collected for recycling include plastic and glass bottles, food tins and cartons, paper and cardboard. Some of these items are sold to recycling factories; some are used directly to make new products.

A green label has been introduced for consumer and industrial products and has been awarded to over 150 products. However, it has not been a huge success due to consumer belief that "green" products are more expensive.

For more information visit the Thailand Institute of Packaging and Recycling Management for Sustainable Environment

Water use

During the rainy season large quantities of rain fall, but increasing urban populations are putting higher demands on the fresh water supplies. Very little water is recycled in Thailand and less than one third of municipal districts have facilities for treating sewage. This is resulting in contamination of ground and surface waters which further increases the need to recycle water.

Further Information