Asia ‘Needs Own Energy Resources’

A lack of domestic energy security has prompted discussion amongst Asian nations about a regional strategy on energy resources. At the Asia Development Research Forum, which concluded yesterday, researchers encouraged the region’s policy makers to develop domestic energy sources. Rather than depend on foreign imports, the focus should be on developing new and renewable energy resources. China’s heavy consumption of coal was discussed, with Chinese representatives admitting that resource depletion and pollution scars is a worrying problem. In Thailand’s case, the use of forest plantations as a source of charcoal was recommended as an alternative energy resource. – YaleGlobal

Asia ‘Needs Own Energy Resources’

Researchers urge region’s policy makers to lessen reliance on imports
Pennapa Hongthong
Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Asian policy makers were told by the region’s energy experts to move away from imported energy resources and develop in-house energy producing schemes at the conclusion of the Asia Development Research Forum yesterday.

The use of forest plantations as a source of charcoal was recommended as an alternative energy resource for Thailand.

More than 250 researchers and policy makers in Asia attended the meeting. Besides discussing the security – or lack thereof – of nations’ energy stores, the meeting also focused on the region’s shifting demographics, trade and investment, food security and tourism development.

When energy security was discussed, forum members focused on the rapid growth of countries like China, whose 1.2 billion citizens daily consume massive amounts of energy. Chinese representatives admitted their country faces serious resource depletion and pollution scars due to over-dependence on coal.

Though Thailand was praised for its strategic plan for energy conservation, which aims to promote wider use of new and renewable energy resources, its implementation tactics were questioned.

Conrando Heruela, energy specialist coordinator of the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Regional Office, said he wondered about gasohol promotion while agriculture prices were in a period of flux. Gasohol is a gasoline extract from gasoline and ethanol, which requires the fermentation of crops.

Heruela also suggested the government rethink its promotion of charcoal, or at least consider wood charcoal that can be harvested from managed plantations.

“The Thai government might consider amending its law [on banning forest concessions] and look to developing new charcoal producing technology,” he said.

Pongpisit Visethakul, director of the Natural Resources Environmental Science and Technology Planning Office, echoed Heruela’s opinion on plantation harvesting.

“At least that would contribute to an efficient reduction of energy imported from foreign sources,” he said.

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