The residence of the Norwegian ambassador is shining renewable lights in Bangkok.
The residence is one of the few foreign governmental buildings in Bangkok. Nevertheless, Ambassador Mr Kjetil Paulsen stays humble: “Norway also produces non-renewable energy, but we do try to make an effort and are shifting slowly, in a responsible fashion, to renewable energy.
The solar panels on the roof match the goal of the Norwegian administration and the 2015 Paris climate deal to reduce the carbon footprint.”
Installing 972 kilograms of solar panels onto the roof of a building dating back to 1956 was not easy, but luckily the original structure offered enough possibilities to host the 54 solar panels that produce a third of the energy used by the building. “In the future we would like to feed excess energy back into the existing power line. At the moment this is not possible due to regulations, but if this changes it could boost solar power tremendously in Thailand. Thai people are very willing to adopt new technology, so if they would be able to make money solar energy could take off.”
The solar panels were ordered at Enerlink Asia Solar, the distributor of Norwegian firm Renewable Energy Company ( REC) that produced the solar panels. They were then shipped to Thailand to be implemented by Enerlink Asia Solar. “Even though we save 12 to 15% annually on energy bills, this was not the main reason for installing the solar panels. We wanted to do our bit to reduce the widespread waste of electricity in Thailand, and also changed all the airconditioning in the house to the highest standard and this reduced our energy consumption by 30%.”
There is a sense of urgency to spread renewable energy globally, and in Asia specifically. “Climate change is rearing its ugly head again here in Asia. There have been extreme weather conditions and floods in the region that illustrate the need for renewable energy. It’s not an easy market with a lot of international competition and it can be difficult to get silicon from the Chinese to produce the solar panels, but there are opportunities for example in technology.”
“Changing environmental conditions require constant development of technology. For hydro power for example you need water, but the water levels are changing constantly or water has gone underground. Norwegian companies are world leading in developing technology for renewable energy. Last week we discussed the possibilities of building small hydro plants for when the large plant can not be used like in the rainy season. This is also better for the rice fields surrounding the plants, and it creates additional jobs.”
“And there is a very public debate in Thailand about renewable energy. Thailand wants to be seen as a modern country, which creates opportunities as well,” the ambassador concludes while the sun sets on the residency and its solar panels. Above: Residence of the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand with solar panels installed on the roof. Right: Close ups of the installation.
The residence of the Norwegian ambassador to Thailand is a role model in many respects. It is one of the first overseas Norwegian governmental building with solar panels.