By PICHAYA CHANGSORN
Christopher Beaufait, group senior vice president and president for Asia-Pacific and China of Vestas, a wind-turbine company, told the Wharton Global Forum in Bangkok yesterday that renewable energy was “surely a hot new sector”.
Despite plunging oil prices and the so-called shale revolution in the United States, Beaufait said that in places where there is a growing demand for energy, renewable sources like wind and solar power could still compete “head to head” with conventional sources.
“It’s not just because of government support, but it’s a better economic decision,” he said.
Beaufait said people often forgot to count the hidden costs of fossil fuels such as the cost of “free water” that a power plant needs, impacts from emissions, and the cost of cleaning it up.
Rahul Sankhe, managing director of India operations of SunEdison, a solar-power developer, said renewable energy relied very much on government policy.
Wandee Khunchornyakong, chief executive of SPCG, a Thai solar-power developer, said solar had become very important for Asean economies, especially in countries like Indonesia and Myanmar where a large number of people still live without access to electricity.
She said solar power was more feasible because a solar farm does not need to be connected to a national power grid that takes three to four years to build. She said the cost of solar power in Thailand had dropped by up to 70 per cent over the last five years and was becoming more competitive with conventional power plants, even without the so-called “adders” subsidy.
“If we take out the adders given to solar, it can be considered a grid priority at the moment,” Wandee said, as she urged the government to redesign its regulatory framework to encourage the national power grid to dispatch more electricity from solar farms.