By Diarmaid Williams
The Thai government has identified energy storage as a key technology, through which it plans to provide global leadership.
As both renewable energy capacity and demand continues to rise both in Thailand and globally, the country is highly motivated to facilitate the development of the sector.
The Bangkok Post reports that the government plans to include the energy storage issue in the latest revision of its national renewable development plan (PDP:2015-36).
The energy ministry has, through Deputy Energy Minister Surasak Srisak, stated that it should promote energy storage technology alongside plans to promote renewable energy to help mitigate potential blackouts and other problems affecting the country’s energy grid.
Gen Surasak said the revision of the PDP was also due to the delay of the development of coal-fired power plants in the southern region and a large number of new renewable power projects coming on-stream.
“We definitely want to encourage private companies to invest in the power storage sector to create facilities serving the development of electrical vehicles (EVs), for which the government is lending its full support,” he said.
Private industry is pouring much investment into the development of the technology. Hitachi Chemical Co Ltd has entered into an agreement to acquire a 43.9 per cent stake in SET-listed battery manufacturer and distributor Thai Storage Battery (BAT-3K) from its major shareholding family in a deal worth 2.41 billion baht. The acquisition is expected to facilitate technology transfers, helping 3K develop more efficient vehicle batteries in the future, particularly for EVs.
Government plans to continue to increase renewable energy capacity has pushed the need for a more robust power storage system to serve private firms, particularly for SET-listed renewable power developers that are looking to spend big in the sector over the next several years.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) expect to see the first prototype for battery production facilities to be launched by year-end.
Suvit Toraninpanich, the FTI’s deputy secretary-general, said Energy Absolute Plc, a SET-listed renewable power developer and operator, is considering using Thailand and other Asian countries as manufacturing bases for its lithium-ion battery project.
Meanwhile Beta Energy Solution is also teaming up with Singapore-based New Resources Technology Pte to develop production facilities for nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries in Bang Pu district, with commercial. operations slated to begin in 2019.
Twarath Sutabutr, secretary-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said he expected the first prototype for highly-efficient batteries for EVs and the power grid to be launched after 2018.