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Thailand 4.0: The Smart Grid Project

Thailand 4.0 is an initiative put in place by the Thai government, with the aim to drive Thailand into a “smart”, high income nation. Smart City is part of the Thai government’s 4.0 initiative to change big cities like Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Bangkok into technology hubs. In 2017, The Thai government announced that it aims to develop 100 smart cities within two decades. The government has established the National Smart City Committee and invited various agencies and experts to join including the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA). DEPA is the primary agency in charge of initiating the project under the government’s digital economy roadmap, providing high-speed internet infrastructure and free WiFi for smart city development.

Smart city domains include Smart Economy, Smart Mobility, Smart Energy and Environment, Smart Governance, Smart People and Smart Living. One of the biggest challenges faced by the National Smart City Committee is reinventing Thailand as a nation with Smart Energy. In order to do this, the Smart Grid project was set up in conjunction with the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO).

Thailand's National Energy Policy Council approved a national smart grid plan which aims to enhance the reliability of the country’s grid. Under the approved smart grid plan, state-owned utilities will spend up to Bt200 billion (8.2 billion SGD) in implementing smart grid projects through to 2036.

Multiple utility firms are set to trial smart grid technologies under the approved plan. The key driver of implementing a smart grid in Thailand is for low carbon and green growth economy while ensuring that country’s development is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. As energy is the fundamental part of everyday lives and in order to realize the green development, a smart grid is considered as a platform driven by technological advancement and regional proficiency in terms of resources.

Although Thailand cannot replicate individual vision perceived by any country and vice versa, the shared objective is to mitigate climate change while ensuring sustainable development through the minimization of greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore essential to have an approach which will leverage technical, commercial and regulatory framework towards shared objectives.

Another reason why smart grid is being implemented systematically at the national policy level is to ensure that it is secure. Provided that the utilities build a foundation for the Smart grid through a careful overhaul of their IT, communication, and power system infrastructure, this will then enable informed participation by customers, accommodate all generation and storage options, enable new job creation, new products, service and markets, provide the power quality, allow all for dynamic optimization of grid operation and resources and operate resiliently to disturbances and attack from natural disasters.

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