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Mekong region could rely on 100% clean energy by 2050: WWF

May 24. 2016
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By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

Study ‘conflicts with govt plan’ that discounts renewables
THAILAND AND countries in the Mekong region should be able to rely 100 per cent on renewable energy by 2050 and escape the severe impacts of climate change, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study revealed.
The WWF held a press conference in Bangkok yesterday to disclose its latest study on sustainable energy in Thailand and four countries in the Mekong region. The study showed that these countries can produce and use electricity from solar power, wind power, biogas and small run-of-the-river hydroelectricity. 
According to the report, clean energy can cut carbon dioxide emissions by 150 million to 180 million tonnes per year, can offer double the number of jobs, provide cheap and environmentally friendly sources of power as well as strengthen the country’s stability by reducing the reliance on fuel imports. 
Jean-Philippe Denruyter, Greater Mekong Programme energy specialist, said the study concentrated on two scenarios: sustainable electricity and advanced sustainable electricity. In the two scenarios, Thailand can rely on renewable energy for 85 per cent and 100 per cent of supply respectively. 
“By investing intensively on renewable energy such as solar power, wind power and biomass, we can achieve this promising goal by 2050. With the success of this plan implementation, we will have a much greater chance of controlling global warming and will also secure clean and cheap power for the people,” Den-ruyter said.
“The renewable energy technology is developing fast and the cost of generating electricity is becoming cheaper and cheaper, so in the long term, renewable energy will be less costly than fossil fuel.” 
Kasetsart University economics lecturer Decharut Sukkumnoed, meanwhile, said the study was in total conflict with what the authorities believe, despite there being signs of more investment in renewable energy and divestment on fossil fuel. 
“We have the potential to develop renewable energy and rely completely on clean power all year round,” Decharut said.
“Though there are worries that renewable energy is unstable, Thailand is still very lucky. During the rainy season, there are strong monsoon winds that can blow the turbine. While in summer, when there is no wind, there is enough strong sunlight to generate power. We call this a seasonal diversification of renewable energy,” he said.
He added that the government should consider this study and invest more on renewable energy so people can be protected from the adverse effects of fossil fuel in the future. 
Denruyter said if Thailand and nations in the Mekong Region continue with their own power-development plans, the reliance on fossil fuel and hydropower in 2050 will still be dangerously high. 
“If the situation goes down that track, we will not be able to contain the rise in temperatures to under 2 degrees Celsius. Then people will have to pay high electricity bills and suffer severe environmental impacts,” he cautioned. 
If it is business as usual, the study revealed that more than 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere annually. Southeast Asia will be the second largest greenhouse gas producer after India, as the region will produce up to 400,000 megawatts of electricity from coal.

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