FOREWORD Aina Eidsvik, President of the Thai-Norwegian Chamber reflects on the region’s energy options.
O pportunities Are like Sunrises, if you wait too long you miss them. (William Arthur Ward). The demand for energy in the ASEAN countries has grown 60% over the last 15 years and is expected to grow another 60% from now until 2040. The growth in energy consumption is driven both by an increasing population and by an improved standard of living. While access to electricity has long been taken for granted in the West, 10% of the population in ASEAN - 65 million people - still remain without it. It represents a challenge for the region and huge investments will be needed to satisfy the demand.
Modern energy should be affordable, reliable and sustainable. Thailand has a progressive energy plan and in the Thailand Integrated Energy Blueprint (TIEB) the Thai government has set a target to cover 30% of the country’s energy consumption from renewable sources by 2036, up from around 12% now and a quantum leap if achieved.
Renewable energy has so far been more expensive than fossil fuels but this is set to change and some sources claim that renewable energy will be a more economical option already by 2020.
Despite this, Thailand is considering building a new coal-fired power plant. It is believed to be a more cost-effective option to cover the increasing energy demand than LNG or renewable energy. It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind it since LNG would be a more environmentally friendly interim solution until production of affordable renewable energy is sufficiently increased. Natural gas is not renewable but it is far cleaner than even the cleanest coal technology. Natural gas power has also been more affordable than coal power over the last number of years.
As you can read in several of the articles in this issue, sustainable energy technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Norway has over 100 years’ experience with renewable energy and the knowhow is being utilised and further developed by a wide range of companies. These companies provide modern solutions to the energy challenge and are warmly welcomed by the ASEAN governments. If some of the companies could work together and develop combined energy solutions to countries in ASEAN, they are even more likely to become success stories.