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28 May 2008


Thai Energy Crops: Movement Strategies for Future Development of Alternative Energy (Current Issue No.2074)

One importantglobal trend has lately been on the development of alternative energy to reduce reliance on costlier petroleum/fossil fuels. An interesting energy alternative is bio-fuel that is derived from agricultural products. The bio-fuels to be discussed herein are categorized into two groups, i.e., ethanol and bio-diesel. Ethanol is usually made from sugarcane and cassava, while bio-diesel is mainly derived from oil palm. Other crops for bio-fuel production include corn, soybean, rice, millet, barley, wheat, jatropha and rapeseed.
Interestingly, the impact of runaway oil prices has been felt around the globe, especially as a threat to staple food crops. Arable land that was formerly used for farm produce earmarked as food, animal feed production and as raw materials in agro-industries has been increasingly used for plantation of energy crops due to high demand. There have been global debates on the imminent food crisis, while will require collaborative efforts of all parties to forestall any adverse consequences.
KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) has studied the government's strategies on the promotion of ethanol and bio-diesel industry in Thailand, plus related problems and come up with some recommendations on several pressing issues. Focus has been on four key areas, i.e., raw materials, production, marketing and the government's policies. Priority should be placed on clear-cut policy guidelines to ensure effective management for proper production and consumption of ethanol and bio-diesel in order to meet our desired objectives. Thorough consideration should be given to the entire value chain, from raw material procurement to production, plus marketing, and R&D, in collaboration with concerned governmental agencies including the Ministries of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Energy, Commerce, Industry, Science and Environment, Finance and Transports. What's more, cooperation between manufacturers, oil traders, automakers, financial institutions and consumers is needed to push ahead the country's strategies for alternative energy development in a sustainable manner to ensure national energy security in the future.

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