By RACHANON CHAROONSAK
Their struggle will end by the end of this month, thanks to the initiative of the Energy Ministry and the Renewable Energy for Sustainable Association (RESA) to create a model community that uses solar cells to create electricity and a high-performance system to store the energy.
They plan to create electricity networks and install water pumps to ensure the people of Lamphun province have access to electricity and a better standard of living.
Twarath Sutabutr, director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO) said many people live in remote mountainous areas in the north of the province. Communications are inconvenient and electricity has been largely inaccessible until now due to the extreme difficulty in installing public utilities.
A survey discovered that around 365 households in Mae Tha district lack access to electricity, as well as to proper water-supply systems for drinking and agriculture.
In order to improve the quality of life for people in the area, the Ministry of Energy assigned the RESA to install a “microgrid” system for the people who live in this remote area. The project was financially supported by Energy Conservation Promotion Fund.
The project kicked off last October, with the roll-out of solar cells and a high-performance system for storing energy. It is considered a model approach with the use of lithium batteries with flow batteries.
This project will set an example for other communities in creating sustainable energy using microgrids – a system that chooses between the use of sunlight, wind or other energy sources based on what is the best fit in the local environment.
The metered flow of electricity started this month. Local communities have decided the extent of distribution due to the costs of creating the system.
Each household will be able to use up to 500 watts, which is sufficient for their needs and does not affect the traditions and lifestyles of people in the community.
Damrong Jinakat, mayor of Mae Tha district said that the people in Ban Pha Dan, Ban Mae Sa-ngae, Ban Pong Pang communities lacked electricity because they are located in wildlife conservation areas and so are not allowed to install electric poles.
Until now, people in these communities have used candles and lamps to illuminate at night. The lack of electricity also resulted in a lack of road lighting, which made it very difficult to travel at night.