In South-East Asian countries, rapid economic growth coupled with concerns over energy security has meant a soaring demand for renewable energy sources. According to a recent report by Emergent Ventures, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam comprise about 95% of the energy consumption in the region. A few pilot projects have already been successfully implemented and the region is becoming increasingly attractive to solar panel manufacturers. “Thailand expects renewable energy to contribute 25% of total country’s energy mix by 2022. Of this 25%, solar was initially targeted to contribute 500 MW but this target is now proposed to go up to 2000 MW by 2022.” A number of policies have been rolled out to support these projects, with Thailand paving the way by implementing an adder policy which pays an additional 6.5 THB (0.20 US$)/kWh over and above the normal electricity tariff for solar power projects.
These incentives and non-financial support mechanisms need not apply solely to businesses. Panels For Progress aims to exhibit how solar power investments can be successfully applied to the nonprofit realm as well. As the price for solar wafers and modules rapidly declines, solar panel manufacturers are realizing that donating their excess resources, specifically to a worthy cause such as PFP’s project in Chiang Mai, is becoming an increasingly attractive opportunity, and one with a multitude of positive externalities- not least of which is having a tremendous impact on communities in need of these resources.
The harsh reality is that conventional grid power and unsustainable fossil fuels are neither scalable nor affordable energy solutions for the world’s poor. But progress in technology, finance and business is overcoming traditional barriers to delivering renewable energy to the poor. Cheaper, more sophisticated technologies provide us with the ability (and some would claim the moral obligation), to provide energy to the 1.6 billion people- a quarter of humanity- who currently live without access to electricity.
As an update on our project in partnership with Not For Sale in Chiang Mai, Thailand: We are currently in conversation with a solar panel manufacturer that has an interest in partnering with PFP on the project and we are submitting a proposal to their charitable arm. Keep your fingers crossed! This would be a very exciting, and huge development for us.