USAID part­ners with Chu­la­longkorn Univer­sity on re­new­able en­ergy

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Thailand 4.0: Investment- Led Transformation -

The bat­tle against cli­mate change will get help from an im­por­tant al­liance as the United States Agency for International De­vel­op­ment and Thai­land’s Chu­la­longkorn Univer­sity an­nounced last week they will part­ner in a five- year project to scale up investments in grid- con­nected re­new­able en­ergy in the Lower Mekong sub- re­gion.

U. S. diplo­mats and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Chu­la­longkorn Univer­sity, the coun­try’s old­est and most pres­ti­gious univer­sity signed a me­moran­dum of understanding ce­ment­ing their part­ner­ship at a cer­e­mony in Bangkok. The part­ner­ship falls un­der the USAID Clean Power Asia pro­gram, a five- year en­deavor.

The agency and the univer­sity are seek­ing to gauge the im­pact of var­i­ous so­lar en­ergy pilot projects in the Lower Mekong sub- re­gion, which en­com­passes Thai­land, Laos, Cam­bo­dia and Viet Nam. With that in­for­ma­tion they will then see how the pi­lots can be ex­panded to greatly in­crease the use of re­new­able en­ergy in those coun­tries.

“Given that Asia is home to more than half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and con­tin­ues to grow at a tremen­dous rate, en­ergy de­mand is ex­pected to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally in the next decade,” said Glyn Davies, the United States am­bas­sador to Thai­land. “Pro­mot­ing a low- emis­sion power sec­tor is more crit­i­cal now than ever.”

Shift­ing to­wards re­new­able en­ergy is a key com­po­nent in the re­sponse to cli­mate change, and the United Na­tions has said that Thai­land is one of the coun­tries that have al­ready been af­fected by global warm­ing.

“If we fail to har­ness the power of re­new­able re­sources, the re­gion will con­tinue to rely on con­ven­tional en­ergy sources – like coal and large- scale hy­dropower – to meet the ris­ing de­mand. We’ve al­ready wit­nessed the neg­a­tive im­pacts from con­ven­tional power sources: im­pacts on bio­di­ver­sity, hu­man health, food se­cu­rity, and liveli­hoods,” Am­bas­sador Davies said.

The pro­gram is aim­ing to lever­age $ 750 mil­lion from public and pri­vate cap­i­tal for rooftop PV, so­lar farms, wind farms, small hy­dro and biomass projects. To­gether, that should gen­er­ate 500 megawatts of re­new­able en­ergy and re­duce 3.5 mil­lion tons of green­house gas emis­sions.

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