There is a certain lack of expertise in the renewable energy field. The industry has advanced too fast for our education to keep up. We must ensure the expertise stays in Thailand and promotes growth. I want to build up the experts with partnerships with universities like Naresuan University. I want our universities to produce and create experts. I have been working with Naresuan University and Thaksin University on this strategic plan for creating knowledge. We want to build up Thailand as a central hub with knowledge in order to diversify our energy mix.
In terms of energy security, I believe we don’t have a problem since we are a net exporter of the finished product and import only raw materials. The main concern is that we rely too much on gas. Thailand does not accept the use of coal, due to environmental standards, which is the cheapest form of energy creation. Coal technology has changed a lot over time and has got rid of a lot of the environmental problems associated with it. Thailand has over 50 years’ experience in the refinery industry, 30 years in the petrochemical industry, and produce all kinds of products. Thailand is in the center of the automotive industry and are ready to expand outside of the country. The AEC will help, but we have to invest in the right countries so their economies will grow and provide a larger market for our products. We are ready since we have money, know how, technology, operational experience, and are ready to move up.
Regarding the country’s energy supply, it would appear on the surface that it is sufficient. However we are overly reliant on gas imported from Myanmar. We rely on gas for 60% of our energy supply so if something was to happen to cut off that supply then we would be in trouble. Ideally we should diversify our supply and only rely on gas for 10 or 20%. Thailand has great potential to grow faster. We have great natural resources, water, wind and manpower to grow the energy sector. Thailand is a prosperous country and can certainly increase growth. If the AEC is set up properly, to behave like the European Union, then Thailand can be the Germany of that economic union and be the hub of the region.
There is no doubt that Thailand has the ability to become the energy hub of the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) region. Apart from companies being able to hire hard working, quality employees, there is an expertise in energy transportation and infrastructure here that will be invaluable in helping us power the region. In terms of geographical location, Thailand is perfectly placed. We also already have rules and regulations in place, as well as infrastructure with good fundamentals – Thailand is definitely an authority figure when it comes to creating infrastructure.