Thailand energy transition continues to gather momentum

A little less than six months ago, not long after I started this job, I made my first trip to Thailand as CEO of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association to attend the Japan-Thailand Energy Dialogue Business Forum.

Individually and organisationally, we weren’t totally sure what to expect.

From a personal point of view, being only weeks into the role, I was still very much wrapping my head around the specifics of the Thailand energy situation (and that of many countries in the region).

It was also ANGEA’s first official visit to Thailand. As an organisation, we thought Thailand had many attributes that could make it a regional leader in low carbon energy solutions and energy transition – these included long-term commitments to carbon neutrality and net zero, and a well-defined role for natural gas in the national economy.

However, until you’re on the ground and actively engaging with key stakeholders you never truly know what the situation might be.

I’m very pleased to say that we departed Bangkok after that first visit with an understanding that Thailand was a country genuinely invested in energy transition – from the perspective of both government and industry – and very much open to the technology and solutions that would facilitate it. This includes carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS), development of low emissions fuels like hydrogen and ammonia and, of course, further progress in renewable energy (an area in which Thailand was already very active).

Since that trip, dialogue between ANGEA and stakeholders in Thailand has been regular and ongoing. And we were delighted to see it reach a new milestone last week with the staging of inaugural Energy Transition Executive Forum.

More than 300 people attended in person and online, hearing from a wide range of policymakers, industry players, and academics, who shared their diverse experiences and learnings on energy transition, both in Thailand and further afield.

The fact we had speakers from Perth and Melbourne in Australia and also from Norway is representative of the ever-growing global focus on energy transition. The emissions we’re seeking to reduce won’t recognise borders and the work we’re undertaking to tackle the issue must reflect that.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the Forum was the quality and sophistication of the question-and-answer sessions that followed presentations, particularly those related to CCUS.

I believe you can tell a lot about a country’s progress on energy transition by the depth and nuance of questions people ask about the process. To have an audience posing queries from such a strong position of knowledge and a group of speakers so willing to engage with them speaks volumes about where Thailand is at and also where it is going.

On behalf of ANGEA and its member companies, I’d like to thank everyone who attended last week. I would especially like to thank our partners in the event, the Petroleum Institute of Thailand led by Dr Kurujit Nakornthap, who not only helped make the Forum possible logistically but are very much at the forefront of energy transition work in Thailand.

Both ANGEA and myself look forward to the strong and collaborative relationship we have established with Thailand and its energy stakeholders, including the PTIT, continuing well into the future.

We have always said that each country in Asia must undergo a unique energy transition, taking into account its economic position and natural resources.

But there will always be a place for countries to lead the way, setting an example and establishing learnings that neighbours can benefit from.

Thailand can be such a country in Southeast Asia and ANGEA is here to help it achieve that.

Paul Everingham is the inaugural CEO of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (ANGEA), which works with governments, society and industry throughout Asia to build effective and integrated energy policies that meet each country’s climate objectives. Contact him at paul.everingham@paule58.sg-host.com or on LinkedIn.

Main image by Andreas Brücker on Unsplash