The benefits of affordable solar energy
In today’s global world where people are very mobile we have become very
dependent on electricity for various applications. One of our biggest
natural energy sources, oil, is soon to be used up. This is why we have the
duty to find other ways to harness energy. One of the best and most
efficient energy sources today is the energy of the sun or solar energy.
Solar Energy is a never-ending energy source which takes the form of
radiation, heat and light transfer. Solar energy is considered to be the
most pure, clean, pollution free and environmentally friendly energy source
today and it is possibly the best solution to any energy problem. The
potential of the energy delivered by the sun is practically infinite, at
least for the next 4 billion years—as experts predict. The amount of
energy that strikes the surface of the earth in one day exceeds daily
consumption by 10,000 to 15,000 times. So, the potentials are enormous.
Around the world Solar Energy is already being harnessed because it has the
potential to provide several times the current country energy consumption if
So why isn’t solar energy more utilized in Thailand, one can ask? Thailand
happens to be the second largest energy consumer per capita in Asia, with
Indonesia as the leader. One reason is that, as in other countries, too much
economic interest lies within the conventional energy industry; another
reason is the actual cost of conserving the energy. Today on the market you
can find two main applications for harnessing solar energy, solar energy
panels for producing electricity and solar panels for producing hot water.
Unfortunately the first one is still offered at a rather premium price since
these applications are based on semiconductor technologies. When using solar
electricity panels the economics mostly lies within areas where there is no
mains electricity or constant power cuts. But with the constant price
increase fuel oil and thus in electricity, these applications will become a
very good investment. The other one, which is far more economic, is based on
the heat transferring of liquid, mostly water. Here the return of investment
lies within 3-5 years.
Using either one of these systems benefits the environment in many ways.
First, it contributes to a safer, cleaner, less polluted atmosphere.
Electricity production by conventional generators, fossil fuels and nuclear
power has a negative impact on the environment because of the creation and
emissions of pollutants. Solar energy also reduces dependency on fuels
imported from unstable regions and helps to mitigate climatic change as it
does not emit Carbon dioxide (CO2). Solar energy applications also reduce
the risk of ecological catastrophes linked to oil transport and it does not
produce any radioactive waste as in the case of nuclear energy.
In Chiang Mai, where pollution is a serious problem, these applications can
really contribute to a reduction of pollution and at the same time save a
lot of money for the user. The local government in Chiang Mai have, in some
cases, adapted solar energy, especially when for traffic lighting, but much
more can be done. In Mae Hong Son and other places in Northern Thailand, the
government has initiated solar energy projects that are still to be
evaluated. Some Chiang Mai hotels, resorts and private houses have also
utilized solar energy, especially for heating their water. These systems
have then managed to cut the electricity cost by 40-50 %. In some countries
in Europe, the government has either subsidized solar energy applications,
or legislated to encourage it. This has led to a remarkable reduction in the
demand for conventional energy.
Since we have more sunny days here in Thailand than in Europe adopting
subsidies for systems as in Europe would definitely attract more people to
use solar energy and by that, cut down on Thailand’s need for conventional
Eitan Frankental is the Managing Director of Sunpower-asia Co Ltd based in
Chiang Mai, with over 60 year experience in the solar energy business. He
can be reached at 053-281 353, [email protected]