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COMMON SENSE: Bright future for solar power

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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COMMON SENSE: Bright future for solar power | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: We modern Homo Sapiens are addicted to energy. Energy is the main driver for development and economic growth and for over a century, we have been powering our addiction with fossil fuels.

As someone that comes from an oil producing country and having worked with different indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon that have been affected by oil production, I have seen the decline of their livelihoods, environmental resources, culture and the triggering of different types of diseases.

You don’t need to be a scientist or a PhD to realize that it has been a fiasco; we have caused irreparable damages to our environment and have put our future generations at grave risk. This is why I believe renewable energy resources hold promises for the development toward a more sustainable future, a future in which we can live in harmony with pachamama (mother earth) and countries with vast natural beauty, like Thailand do not have to become victims of our past mistakes.

Solar PV (photo-voltaic) is currently the renewable energy of choice for most countries. Solar PV attracts more capital for private investment and public spending than any other types of renewable energy. According to a new report from Navigant Research, annual worldwide revenues from solar PV installations will surpass US$134 billion by 2020.

This is a result of different forms of incentives to induce consumers to invest in solar power. Developed countries have traditionally led the market (particularly the EU countries, Japan and the US), but since last year there has been an important shift toward developing countries that are now proving to be the future for the development of the PV market. So what does this mean?

For consumers

When the technology first became commercially available in the 1970s, the total cost to produce one watt of electric power from a PV cell was close to $100. Since then, the price of solar PV panels has dropped more than 80%. Currently, this price has gone down to lower than $1 per watt – a price that is competitive with the cost of traditionally generated energy in many areas around the world. Over the past five years, solar PV has averaged an annual growth rate of over 50%. This drop in the price of PV production and distribution has become a global trend, resulting in great strides in the technology’s availability for the general population worldwide.

On a global scale, solar could provide about 30% of global total electricity by 2050, up from the 0.1% it provides now. One can imagine the repercussions this could have on the way we as individuals use energy. The fact that solar is becoming a possibility for the average person to acquire is a global economic game changer.

It is a stepping stone for individuals to be able to be energy self-sufficient, not to mention the positive effect this could have for climate change. Despite this positive scenario, the solar PV market is still in a phase of growth but it’s safe to say that the PV industry has reached a point of maturity and is now considered a viable and promising energy resource for the future.

According to a study by Chi-Jen Yang, “Reconsidering Solar Grid Parity,” From 2000 to 2010, global solar PV deployment increased from 0.26 gigawatts (GW) to 16.1 GW with an annual growth rate of more than 40%. Government incentives for consumers and producers, coupled with technological innovations that significantly reduced manufacturing costs, are at least in part responsible for the more widespread deployment and use that PV cells have enjoyed in recent years. Studies have predicted an additional 438GW of solar PV to be installed between 2013 and 2020, by which time it is believed that solar PV would be cost-competitive with retail electricity prices, without subsidies, in a significant portion of the world.

The initial investment in transitioning from fossil fuels to solar power for a private residence, for example, may still seem like a significant one to many, but in reality these systems – thanks again to reductions in manufacturing costs and technological advances – have an ever-increasing potential to not merely pay for themselves, but to generate actual revenue.

For developing countries

The European market that historically has led global solar demand is slowing as regional market conditions become less attractive. The dependence for the demand and production from European and North American markets have faded due to the loss of incentive programs in many of these countries coupled with economic instability since 2008.

Now, when we consider the continued development of incentive policies in developing nations – along with the decreasing system costs, it is clear the solar power industry will have increased importance and priorities in countries like Thailand. Indeed, the growth in Thailand is in line with many industry reports predicting that emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle-East, Africa and “emerging Europe” will help strengthen the solar industry in 2013. According to IHS Solar Emerging Markets report, “up to 30 GW of PV will be added throughout various emerging market in the next four years, helping to stabilize an industry that’s strengthening itself against the elimination of critical incentives in several European markets.”

Thailand has been recognized as a potential solar PV leader due to its strong year round solar radiation, and with Thailand importing more than 60% of its fuel, the argument for renewable, domestically produced energy seems obvious. It was among the first countries in Asia to introduce incentive policies for the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, leading to rapid growth, particularly in solar power. Due to the country’s abundant solar capacity and attractive solar feed-in tariffs offered between 2007-2010 and recently in mid-2013. Thailand has most of the ingredients for solar power to play a major role.

The incentive program, in its early phase known as ADDER, has drawn global developers such as SunEdison and Kyocera, 99% of this capacity addition comes from large-scale solar farms (with installed capacity that exceeds 1 MW).

Currently there is positive news for solar rooftop development in Thailand. After three years of a pause in support, the Thai government reopened a feed-in tariff (FiT) program for rooftop and ground-mounted solar power investment in July, 2013. The government will support 200 MW of rooftop solar power through these policies. The FiT rates send a strong signal to attract foreign investment as well as to inspire local start-ups to enter the business of solar power installation. In the past, complex and lengthy permitting processes have been a persistent barrier to the expansion of Thailand’s solar market. To bring solar PV to the mainstream, obstructive laws and regulation would have to be overcome. It remains to be seen if such strong incentives will result in a vibrant residential rooftop market.

David Arturo Terán has a BA in International Relations and Political Science with a Minor in Environmental Law from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. He is a graduate student in the Environment, Development and Sustainability Program at Chulalongkorn University, where he also works as a Research Assistant with the Energy Research Institute. He can be contacted through 0849105232 or email:
teranda08@gmail.com

— David Arturo Tern

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

Bangkok

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue

The Thaiger

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The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Former Thai Sports and Tourism Minister with Vernon Unsworth MBE

The Isan Project has collaborated with the TAT on new marketing campaign featuring music commemorating the Tham Luang cave rescue.

The story of how 13 young men, members of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, were saved in the caves of Chiang Rai continues to ignites interest in the miraculous internationally-followed rescue in July 2018 from the flooded Tham Luang cave

To honour the safe rescue music video company The Isan Projectrecently launched “Where the Eagles Fly”, video to pay tribute to the British hero of the dramatic saga, Vern Unsworth MBE.

The release of a movie and Netflix mini series shortly will also boost interest globally in Thailand. The series includes the first individual interviews with the boys and they coach.

The launch, in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and supported by the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit and Serenity Wines, was attended by several key persons involved in the rescue mission two years ago, including former Tourism & Sports Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, who played a major role in flying in special cave divers from the UK as requested by Vernon Unsworth, a recognised cave explorer, who knows virtually every inch of the Tham Luang cave.

“It is absolutely true that without Vernon’s persistence in obtaining the help from the UK cave diving experts to initially spearhead the rescue mission, the boys and their coach would not be alive today.”

“Needless to say, assistance from experienced and skilled cave divers from around the world, who later volunteered to join as well as our own Navy Seals, all contributed to the mission’s ultimate success.”

Vernon Unsworth MBE, his partner Woranan Ratrawiphakkun, and his caving buddy Kamon Kunngamkwamdee, all starred in the “Where the Eagles Fly” fantasy music video, which was set in deep jungle and caves in the mountain of Doi Nang Non in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

“I’m truly honoured to have this song written about me. It was very moving to relive parts of the rescue while making the music video, especially when I think back on how Kamon and I covered over 16 km. on the first day after we knew the boys were missing. We virtually lived in the cave for the first 4 days prior to the arrival of my cave diving colleagues from the UK”.

The story of how the football team were saved in the caves is a heart warming one. For many attending the event it was a privilege and an honour to meet 63 year old Vernon Unsworth in person. An event filled with stories of bravery, emotion and moving music.

Vernon, who has mapped the cave system for 8 years, was the first professional cave diver at the site and realising the enormous danger the boys were in, played a significant rôle in the rescue and earned him the UK’s high honour, an MBE medal.

As the rescue became a race against time ahead of impending monsoon rains, Vernon undertook reconnaissance dives upstream through flooded passages against strong currents.

Weerasak Kowsurat, the former Minister of Tourism and Sports, recalled how a message written on a piece of paper by Vernon and handed to his colleague for safe keeping with instructions that it was to be handed over in case Vernon, fearing the worst, didn’t make it out on an exploratory dive. It was very dangerous work and one Thai diver died during the course of the rescue.

Although Vernon was safe, the message was handed to the Minister who was at the cave site. The message was to contact the British Dive Caving Association and gave names of expert divers and telephone numbers. Within 24 hours the Tourism Minister had managed to get the UK divers on a hastily arranged flight to Thailand to assist in the rescue effort.

The team of UK divers, working under appalling conditions and with time running out, in poor visibility located the team marooned on a ledge above the water about 4 kilometres inside the cave complex.

Writer and executive producer of The Isan Project, Will Robinson says… “Although I had penned and produced “Heroes of Thailand” honouring all those involved in the Tham Luang cave rescue, I felt it was time to pay a special tribute directly to the mastermind of the extremely complex mission.”

“Vernon is such a humble man, I wanted to create a song not only to honour him, but also to establish Tham Luang and what is now known as the ‘Wild Boar Cave’, where the boys were found, as a new tourist attraction for those who love to explore caves.”

At the beginning of the video it reads…

“On June 23, 2018, 12 boys from the Wild Boar football team went exploring the Tham Luang cave with their coach in Chiang Rai. They never returned home that night, next day locals contacted cave explorer Vern Unsworth in nearby Mae Fah Luang. Over the course of the next two weeks Vern put his life on the line for the young football team with a daring rescue engineered by Vern and Elite British cave divers. This song was written in honour of Vern Unsworth M.B.E. and inspired by the above events.”

You can watch the video HERE.

Commenting on the Isan Project Tanes Petsuwan, TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications said, “TAT appreciates Will’s love of Thailand, and we are delighted to be supporting this launch. We also believe that this song combined with the newly-published children’s book, “All Thirteen” and the soon-to-be released Hollywood movie, “Thirteen Lives”, will help to dramatically boost tourism in and around Chiang Rai even though we will need to rely mainly on domestic tourists until the end of the year while international travel is still restricted.”

“Where the Eagles Fly”, co-written by Will Robinson and Daniel Ryan, and performed by Daniel himself, is tipped to top the charts when the MGM blockbuster movie, “Thirteen Lives” and the Netflix mini-series about the epic story of the Tham Luang cave rescue are released. The song is now available from all digital music stores including iTunes, Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

The Isan Project honours a hero of Tham Luang cave rescue | News by The Thaiger

From left: Mr. Sobchai (Ford) Kraiyoonsen Singer/composer, Mr. Tanes Petsuwan TAT’s Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications, Senator Weerasak Kowsurat former Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr. Vern Unsworth British cave explorer, Mr. Will Robinson Writer and Executive Producer of The Isan Project, Mr. Nithee Seeprae TAT’s Executive Director of Advertising & PR Department, Ms. Woranan Ratrawiphakkun Vern’s partner, Mr. Sammy Carolus GM of the Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit

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World

The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods… Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble Thai massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by the CNN Travel team. Thailand’s smooth coconut milk and potato-based curry (add meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at Number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also making it into the World’s Best food list.

The hot and spicy shrimp/prawn soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at Number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck, Penang Assam laksa, Malaysia and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

First Place, Massaman curryEmphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Eighth Place, Tom Yum Kung

This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

46th Place, Som Tam/Papaya salad

To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods... Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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Protests

K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht

The Thaiger

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K-Pop fans show their support for the young Thai protesters, donate 3 million+ baht | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Fan-funded 'happy birthday' signs around Thailand's BTS and MRT station

Art meets politics again, this time with hundreds of thousands of K-Pop fans raising funds in support of the growing student protest movement in Thailand. So far they’ve raised more than 3 million baht (as of 10am this morning) but the amount is rising quickly as Thai and overseas K-Pop fans respond. The most popular band in Thailand at the moment is BTS, the South Korean septet which is currently the most popular band in the world (as of today BTS commands the Number 1 and Number 2 positions on the US Billboard singles chart).

BTS fans have so far been the largest contributors donating funds to the protest cause.

The BTS Thailand page, not to be confused with the BTS Skytrain, is urging K-pop fans to stop the practice of paying for billboards in support of their favourite idols and to celebrate the birthdays of the 7 members. RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook issued a statement on their fanpage asking fans to stop funding the BTS and MRT “inconvenienced protesters and normal citizens from getting home and putting them in danger”.

Bangkok’s two main rail systems were closed down over the weekend as police and protesters played a cat and mouse game. The protesters were withholding the announcement of protest locations to the last minute whilst police second-guessed their moves, ending up in mass inconvenience for the wider public in shutting down the entire network, including the Airport link.

“We’re calling Armys and other fans to stop buying ad projects with the BTS and MRT.” (“Army” is the name of BTS fans.

Fans of K-pop groups as well as other “idol” groups often pool their resources to purchase display ads in the MRT and BTS stations wishing their stars happy birthday or on other significant anniversaries.

It’s thought that many more millions of baht will be raised by the K-Pop fans in the next few days.

The young Thai protesters are tapping into a strong social media network, and have “weaponised” the social media and messaging platforms. The main App they are now using, to communicate their intentions, is “Telegram”, developed by a young Russian couple but now operating out of Germany. The App features encypted messages, impossible to track, and has 400 million monthly active users.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging, video telephony and voice over IP service with end-to-end encryption for secret chat only, whereas Cloud chat uses client-server/server-client encryption and its messages are stored encrypted in the Telegram Cloud – Wikipedia

Meanwhile, other K-Pop acts that have mobilised their fans win support include Girls’ Generation, GOT7, NCT, WannaOne, Nu’est, X1, Day 6, Red Velvet, MonstaC, Woodz, Shinee, Super Junior and R1se. We’re sure the fans of Black Pink are also contributing but didn’t have their figures available at the time of publishing. Fans of popular Thai actors and celebrities are also donating to the pool.

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