Action plan being drafted to help national parks use clean, cheap energy
An action plan to develop cheaper and environmentally friendly power supply for national parks nationwide is being drafted in a joint venture involving the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT).
Officers from all national parks in the southern region attended a three-day workshop in Krabi arranged by the KMUTT and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) from April 27 to 29, to learn about renewable electricity generation and to survey the power consumption of each national park.
They also went on a field trip to Koh Hong Island at Bokkharani National Park in Krabi to survey operations at one of the pioneering renewable electricity generation stations designed by a KMUTT research team.
Usa Boonbumroong, head of the KMUTT research team, stated that the workshop for officers from 54 national park offices was a preparation for the renewable energy action plan being drafted in order to facilitate cleaner and cheaper power generation at all national parks.
“This workshop is our first move to work on the plan with the DNP to change electricity generation at all rural national parks that do not have access to the Provincial Electricity Authority’s power line, from polluting basic diesel power to the cheaper and cleaner hybrid micro-grid system,” Usa said.
The KMUTT research team has developed a hybrid small-scale power generation unit, which combines solar cells for main power generation and a diesel electric generator as a backup system, he said. The system is already in operation at 15 locations across the country, he said.
He pointed out that with this renewable small-scale power generation unit, the parks can ensure a healthy environment as solar power does not cause pollution. Moreover, the cost of electricity generation is also much lower than the traditional diesel generator.
“The estimated cost of electricity from the hybrid solar-and-diesel generator is only around Bt10 per unit (1,000 watts per hour), compared to Bt20 per unit for purely solar power generation and up to Bt60 per unit for diesel power,” Usa said.
“The price can be even lower, as each area has different power generation potential. For instance, national parks that have waterfalls can install small hydropower generators, which can reduce the cost of electricity to only Bt1.5 per unit.”
The hybrid small-scale power generator costs around Bt2.5 million per set. If the system is properly maintained, the power generator’s life span could be extended for more than 10 years while it is estimated that it would take 12 years to reach break-even point, he said.
KMUTT rector Sakarindr Bhumiratana stated that the workshop to draft a renewable energy action plan for national parks in the southern region at Krabi is only the first step. Within the course of this year, KMUTT, the ERC, and the DNP will arrange similar workshops at national parks in every region to switch to cheaper and cleaner electricity generation.
Sakarindr said the workshop would allow the national parks to analyse their power consumption and the potential for renewable energy generation. KMUTT would also train the national park officers on how to operate, maintain and repair the power generation system, so that they can take proper care of the system in remote areas.
Protected Area Regional Office 5 director Supot Purdpring noted that the hybrid small-scale power generation units would be very useful for the operation of most national parks, because these parks are situated in areas too far away to access the public utility, as a result these national parks currently have to rely on polluting and expensive power generation from oil.
“The DNP is working with the KMUTT to solve this issue by launching the renewable energy road map for all national parks in the country,” Supot said.
“I hope that the migration to cleaner electricity generation would be successful in every area and could adequately answer the need for power consumption, as these also let us achieve the goal of smart national parks as per the Thailand 4.0 plan.”