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National parks drawing up plans for clean, cheaper energy

The Thaiger & The Nation

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National parks drawing up plans for clean, cheaper energy | The Thaiger

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 and King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi.

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 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 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 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 10 baht per unit (1,000 watts per hour), compared to 20 baht per unit for purely solar power generation and up to 60 baht 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 1.5 baht per unit.”

The hybrid small-scale power generator costs around 2.5 million baht 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.”

National parks drawing up plans for clean, cheaper energy | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Expats

Thailand’s immigration police catch thousands of overstayers thanks to airport biometrics

May Taylor

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Thailand’s immigration police catch thousands of overstayers thanks to airport biometrics | The Thaiger

The chief of Thailand’s immigration police says the biometrics system in place at sixteen airports across the country has so far netted 1,000 people who are blacklisted or on watch lists, 700 who have arrest warrants out for them, and 45,000 who have overstayed in the country.

The Nation reports that the system is also used to detect fake passports as it uses UV and infrared light to compare the information stored in a chip in the passport with facial features.

It’s understood that in just three days, police were able to arrest 8,000 people for being in possession of fake passports, illegal immigration, overstaying their visas or criminals with arrest warrants out for their capture.

The notorious fake billionaire who married in a lavish ceremony costing over 3.5 million baht and then left his wife to pick up the tab, was recently arrested at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport after being caught by the biometrics system. See story HERE.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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ASEAN

Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations

May Taylor

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Thai Airways announces cancellation of six routes to four ASEAN destinations | The Thaiger

The President of Thai Airways International says the airline is set to cancel six flight routes to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

The Nation reports that Sumeth Damrongchaitham says the routes in question are all from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Yangon.

“These routes are all covered by a small number of flights and have low customer capacity. Once the cancellation plan is finalised, THAI will assign Thai Smile Airways to cover these routes instead.”

Sumeth cites increased competition as the reason behind the decision and the difficulties presented by rival airlines slashing prices to remain ahead of competitors.

“THAI needs to adjust our strategies too to preserve our reservation rate. We will focus on rolling out promotional campaigns until year end. However, next year’s strategy remains to be seen. Our prices this year have been reduced to a record low and if this strategy doesn’t work, we may take a different direction, such as seeking more partners for organisation tickets, increasing online channels, or giving privileges to frequent fliers.”

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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