Energy Minister Arak Chonlatanon is seeking discussions with the ministries of Finance and Industry to boost ethanol exports and promote alternative energy development.
He said on Monday that the Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency Department is tasked with representing the Energy Ministry in the discussions to see if laws obstructing alternative energy development, particularly ethanol, should be amended. Thailand can become a regional ethanol export hub if the laws are amended to allow free exports.
At present, ethanol is governed by the Liquor Act. Exports are under the review of Finance Ministry’s Excise Department. Over recent years, the Energy Ministry has been trying to free up ethanol exports by producers.
“Overseas ethanol demand is high and Thailand has excess output. Thailand can be a regional hub, but for the legal hindrance. We need a serious discussion with related ministries,” Arak said.
The National Energy Policy Council earlier approved a ban on octane-91 petrol from October 2012. After that, only ethanol-mixed petrol will be available. It is estimated that the ban will boost ethanol consumption by 0.7 million litres a day, from 1.2 million at present.
Arak noted that this resolution may be reviewed. Though the ban would boost ethanol consumption domestically, the excess output should rather be exported to promote consumption and boost fuel crops prices.
The Energy Business Department’s data shows that Thailand’s combined ethanol production capacity is 2.93 million litres a day. It would rise to 3.37 million litres at the end of the first quarter. However, demand during 2010-2011 stayed at 1.2 million litres.
Under the ministry’s 10-year alternative energy development plan, the daily capacity would be raised to 9 million litres in 2021.
The minister also focuses on other obstructive laws, like the Factory Act BE2535. Under the law, all plants generating 3.7 kilowatt of power - including those generating power through rooftop solar cells - are required to obtain industrial factory licenses. Arak considers that unhealthy for alternative energy development.