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Phuket Business: Solar system pilots

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: An innovative new solar power system will be making its world premier in the coming months, with Phuket to serve as a pilot market, and possibly a manufacturing base.

The Powerrrup – that’s right, 3 rs – is an ingenious yet simple ground-breaking, renewable energy system developed specifically with the island’s “green conscious” market in mind.

Its inventor, Ivan Peeters, spoke exclusively with the Phuket Gazette, unveiling details about the innovation for the first time ever.

The Belgian entrepreneur, reinforced by Singapore-based backers sharing a common vision to develop practical and affordable green energy solutions for the mass market, said that Phuket is particularly appealing due to its abundance of sunshine, coupled with a growing demand for alternative and affordable sources of energy.

“The Powerrrup system increases the energy yield of conventional solar power systems by 20 per cent,” Ivan said.

At the core of the innovation are photovoltaic solar panels. While solar panels themselves are nothing new, the mechanism in which the technology will be applied is.

Replacing conventional rooftop solar panel setups, the Powerrrup system features a lightweight and mobile panel-mount designed for the ground.

Unlike traditional, fixed-place systems, the Powerrrup provides optimized yield efficiency thanks to its mobile and flexible properties.

Ivan explained, “The problem with rooftop panels is that they are fixed at one particular angle and can’t follow the path of the sun throughout the day. People with a lot of money might consider investing in an automated tracking system, but this can be expensive and you end up using more energy than you can get returned, and thus defeat the purpose.”

“Typically, people install many panels on their roof to increase the energy yield. There are several issues with this approach. Not only are the panels not operating at full capacity throughout the day due to the angle of the sun, but the weight of many panels puts stress on the roof and the building structure, which may end up costing one more in the long run.

“Another problem is the risk of damage to the panels from storms, wind and rain. Moreover, there are complications with cleaning and maintenance….”

Easy to position and move around to suit various grades of terrain, the Powerrrup mount is made from recyclable polypropylene material and its basic design allows it to be set between 25 to 45-degree angle tilts.

While many people tend to presume that renewable energy such as solar power is not as cost effective as fossil fuels, Ivan, an accomplished engineer, suggested the contrary.

“When people invest in diesel generators for back-up or supplemental power systems, they also incur continuous costs as they need to keep buying fuel. With solar systems, there is only a one time start-up cost, and as long as the sun shines there are no more recurring costs – other than replacing the battery or converter after 10 years, and a new panel after about 20 years,” he said.

“What’s more, the Energy Return On Investment (EROI) factor for a solar panel is higher than a barrel of oil. For example, one solar panel has an EROI rating of 6 compared to 5 for a barrel of oil.

“In other words a solar panel can produce enough energy in its lifetime to create six of the same panels. Meanwhile a barrel of oil has enough energy to produce only five [barrels of oil]. As time goes on the EROI for oil is decreasing, while that of solar is increasing,” Ivan explained.

While most existing green businesses might be considered viable as a niche market for a minority, the Powerrrup system has been designed for a broader, mass market.

“The system is ideal for everyone who has a need or desire to become more self sufficient and to reduce expenses amid rising energy costs. Large and small-scale offices, firms, bars, etc, as well as homeowners, and even those living in apartments and condos with space on their balcony, can benefit from, and more importantly, afford the system,” he said.

Ivan noted that a complete, ready-to-use 250 watt system can be bought for as little as US$400, or about 12,600 baht.

Talking about plans in 2012 and beyond, Ivan said, “As part of the pilot phase, we’re looking to collaborate and have discussions with officials and other like-minded businesses and organizations in Phuket. But we aren’t necessarily looking for investors,” he said.

“We are developing several more innovative green products that we plan to launch in the coming years. Ultimately, we’d like to localize manufacturing of our products by establishing a factory in Phuket which could employ several hundred locals,” he said, noting that the bulk of materials used are currently sourced from China.

“If everything goes well, we plan for an official launch of Powerrrup by September and are also keeping an eye on the markets in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore,” he added.

— Steven Layne

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Business

Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January

Maya Taylor

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Vietjet

Passenger numbers on domestic flights within Thailand have doubled within a month, rising from 4,000 in January to over 10,000 this month. Having nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, domestic travel plummeted once more when Covid-19 resurfaced late last year.

Apirat Chaiwongnoi from the Department of Airports says 15 of Thailand’s 29 airports are now operating domestic flights, with more expected to follow. He believes the aviation sector will continue to recover further in the coming 6 months, bolstered by the national vaccine rollout.

Around 120 domestic flights a day are now operating, which is twice the number that were operating at the lowest point in the crisis. Prior to the resurgence of the virus in December, domestic passenger numbers had recovered to 30,000 – 40,000 a day, around 80% of pre-pandemic numbers.

The DoA says airports must continue to adhere to the Covid-19 hygiene measures put in place by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market to remain closed until February 15

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Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market to remain closed until February 15 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kom Chad Luek

Samut Sakhon’s Central Shrimp Market, the epicentre of Thailand’s recent wave of Covid-19, will remain closed until February 15. The market can reopen once the overall hygiene situation at the market and surrounding area has improved, according to the province’s disease control committee.

Local officials say the shrimp market needs to remain closed until the market structure and nearby residential facilities are inspected. People who violate the order face up to a year in prison and a fine up to 100,000 baht.

More than 12,000 people in the province have tested positive for Covid-19. The increasing number of infections is a result from the active case finding to contain the spread of the virus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Thairath Online

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