BANGKOK, June 23, 2017 /PRNewswire

Thailand is championing green growth and technologies. Recently announced incentives are squarely aimed at nurturing a green ecosystem in the newly established Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), an exciting, large-scale investment area for hi-tech and green industries. The idea is to attract a critical mass of entrepreneurs, engineers, and corporations with the resources and abilities necessary to tackle these important new challenges.

EEC will be implemented in three provinces, namely Chon Buri, Rayong, and Chachoengsao. It will be divided into three areas: industrial zone, infrastructure development zone, and urban development zone.

Thailand's green technology and energy included bio gas, bio plastic and bio energy. A WEF white paper estimates that 95% of plastic's value is lost after its first use; they're becoming so pervasive in our oceans that they're now expected to outweigh all fish by 2050.

 

2018 Regional Bioplastic Production Forecast

Region

Market share (%)

Tons

North America

1

1.1

South America

15

1.3

Europe

11

1.2

APAC

73

4.6

Data: European Bioplastics, Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, Nova-institute

Southeast Asia is particularly at risk, with its widespread public use of disposable plastic bags in food markets and restaurants from Myanmar to Indonesia. But Thailand is disrupting the cycle with new material sciences that produce biodegradable plastics from locally available sugarcane feedstock. Instead of ending up buried for centuries in landfills or washing out to sea, Thai bioplastic containers crumble to worm food in just five weeks.

European bioplastic veteran Corbion cites the country's strategic access to APAC markets as a key reason behind its latest $100 million investment in Thai bioplastics production. Unstated are the benefits of an increasingly skilled talent pool of local engineers, material scientists, and technicians.

Bio Energy as a Blueprint

As developing economies continue to grow, so too does their thirst for energy. Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are all building liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals to ensure uninterrupted supplies as regional demand picks up. But renewable energy resources like biomass and biogas are growing in importance as a more sustainable way to address supply pressures.

Bio-based solutions are a natural fit for Thailand, given the huge amounts of eco waste produced by the country's agricultural sector. Domestic sugar producer Mitr Phol is one leader, it now powers several processing plants with steam turbines that run on burned burn leftover sugarcane waste. Early success has convinced the firm to diversify into dedicated biomass power plants that run on rice waste as feedstock as well.

Biogas is equally promising, with a number of foreign players building new plants in Thailand. Singapore and Irish-backed Asia Biogas now converts palm oil by-products into renewable biogas for power generation.  Japanese fiber expert Toray is building a new plant that is expected to produce bio-ethanol using half as much energy as current standard. And new Thailand 4.0 incentives should help smooth the way for more foreign direct investment and biogas adoption; land ownership permissions and corporate income tax exemptions certainly help sweeten the finances behind these deals.

Thailand Renewable Energy Targets

Type of renewable energy

Megawatts

2014

2021 Target

Solar

1,250

2,600

Wind

600

1,400

Hydro

500

550

Biomass

2,500

4,900

Biogas

700

3,600

Other

200

800

Data: Thailand Ministry of Energy

But stepping back, innovation in biogas and bioplastics can be seen as a road map for other heavy industries overdue for environmental modernization. Thailand, with its dreamy beaches and lush tropical landscapes, understands the value of unspoiled nature better than many of its peers.

Advances in green technologies and bio processes will be critical in mitigating the once inevitable environmental damages of industrial activity. And as these efforts scale up, so too will their financial sustainability. Like Thailand, countries that seed a green innovation ecosystem today will help prepare their economies and environments from the urgent demands of tomorrow.

Source: Thailand Board of Investment (BOI)

2018 Regional Bioplastic Production Forecast

Region

Market share (%)

Tons

North America

1

1.1

South America

15

1.3

Europe

11

1.2

APAC

73

4.6

Data: European Bioplastics, Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, Nova-institute

Southeast Asia is particularly at risk, with its widespread public use of disposable plastic bags in food markets and restaurants from Myanmar to Indonesia. But Thailand is disrupting the cycle with new material sciences that produce biodegradable plastics from locally available sugarcane feedstock. Instead of ending up buried for centuries in landfills or washing out to sea, Thai bioplastic containers crumble to worm food in just five weeks.

European bioplastic veteran Corbion cites the country's strategic access to APAC markets as a key reason behind its latest $100 million investment in Thai bioplastics production. Unstated are the benefits of an increasingly skilled talent pool of local engineers, material scientists, and technicians.

Bio Energy as a Blueprint

As developing economies continue to grow, so too does their thirst for energy. Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are all building liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals to ensure uninterrupted supplies as regional demand picks up. But renewable energy resources like biomass and biogas are growing in importance as a more sustainable way to address supply pressures.

Bio-based solutions are a natural fit for Thailand, given the huge amounts of eco waste produced by the country's agricultural sector. Domestic sugar producer Mitr Phol is one leader, it now powers several processing plants with steam turbines that run on burned burn leftover sugarcane waste. Early success has convinced the firm to diversify into dedicated biomass power plants that run on rice waste as feedstock as well.

Biogas is equally promising, with a number of foreign players building new plants in Thailand. Singapore and Irish-backed Asia Biogas now converts palm oil by-products into renewable biogas for power generation.  Japanese fiber expert Toray is building a new plant that is expected to produce bio-ethanol using half as much energy as current standard. And new Thailand 4.0 incentives should help smooth the way for more foreign direct investment and biogas adoption; land ownership permissions and corporate income tax exemptions certainly help sweeten the finances behind these deals.

Thailand Renewable Energy Targets

Type of renewable energy

Megawatts

2014

2021 Target

Solar

1,250

2,600

Wind

600

1,400

Hydro

500

550

Biomass

2,500

4,900

Biogas

700

3,600

Other

200

800

Data: Thailand Ministry of Energy

But stepping back, innovation in biogas and bioplastics can be seen as a road map for other heavy industries overdue for environmental modernization. Thailand, with its dreamy beaches and lush tropical landscapes -- understands the value of unspoiled nature better than many of its peers.

Advances in green technologies and bio processes will be critical in mitigating the once inevitable environmental damages of industrial activity. And as these efforts scale up, so too will their financial sustainability. Like Thailand, countries that seed a green innovation ecosystem today will help prepare their economies and environments from the urgent demands of tomorrow.

Source: Thailand Board of Investment (BOI)

Illustration Photo: Solar Power Project in Thailand (credits: Asian Development Bank / Flickr Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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