Electrifying off-grid communities on Thai islands

“Electricity access is key for the development of local communities. We need to support the remaining Off-Grid islands in getting electricity and thus enable them to make their visions come true,” says Dumrong Sinto, Chief Executive of the regional Sub-District Authority Organization, the political body responsible for one of the pilot islands in the Andaman Sea.
 
On most of Thailand’s off-grid islands, the population is dependent on electricity supplied by diesel generators for a few hours a day. The problem these islands face is that of limited, expensive and intermittent supply. Renewable-Energy-Diesel Hybrid Systems could tackle the challenge of providing reliable electricity access.
 
The project is currently supporting government and local stakeholders in developing alternative and financially viable models to electrify the remaining off-grid islands in Thailand for the benefit of the people and the environment.
 
Following a first site visit in March, socio-economic and technical feasibility studies were prepared by the project team and the technical consultant for two pilot sites, Koh Mak Noi (Phang-Nga Province) and Koh Bulon Don (Satun Province). These two islands, which are of different size and have different income structures and populations, are serving as the role models for other island communities. To address the diversity of the islands’ setups, two business and operation models are applied: the Mak Noi community will benefit from government involvement whereas Koh Bulon Don will be a project mainly driven by the private sector.
 
In August, the project took the opportunity to visit the islands again with all the involved stakeholders to discuss the results, collect feedback and work on more concrete project implementation setups. Discussions and technical meetings continued in Bangkok. Even though some obstacles remain, all the parties are highly motivated to take project implementation further.
 
Quotes from Bulon Don Community Meeting on 24th of August
 

It gets really dark on the island especially during the monsoon season. Some people are very scared by the darkness. With continuous electricity supply, we would be able to install street lights. People will feel safer and tripping hazards will reduce. - Elderly woman living on Koh Bulon Don 

Babies and children as well as their families will enjoy better sleep with access to 24/7 electricity children often wake up in the middle of the night because they are too hotFamily members have to fan them manually to cool them downThe possibility of running electric fans will improve the quality of life a lot. -  Mother of a 2-year-old child living on Bulon Don

Curing some minor diseases would be so easy with stable access to electricityMedicine could be stored in fridges and freezers and given when people get sickAt the moment, we dont have the opportunity to store the medicine in a cool place and are dependent on onshore health centres or the medicine boats that pass the islands from time to time. - Old man living on Bulon Don


Additional quote from SAO Meeting on 28th of August:
 

Access to a stable electricity supply means a lot, especially to the children living on the islandThey often struggle to compete with students from the mainland as they have to learn in hot classrooms, which reduces their concentration, and also suffer from a lack of modern digital teaching measures. - Dumrong Sinto, Chief Executive of the regional Sub-District Authority Organization responsible for Koh Mak Noi

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