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Thailand looks to use electric tuk-tuks in tourism

Image Credits: The Nation, Thailand, News Article

The Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) announced that it has partnered with the Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) to promote the use of electric tuk-tuks in tourism businesses.

The Deputy Director of MEA and the President of EVAT on Wednesday, 15 July 2020, jointly presided over the opening ceremony of “Change Tuk-Tuks to New Normal” campaign at MEA Head Office in Bangkok’s Khlong Toei district.

The campaign aims to promote the use of electric tuk-tuks to reduce environmental impact, especially in tourism businesses, after the government has eased lockdown measures.

The Deputy Director stated that tuk-tuks are an iconic vehicle of Thailand that could help promote a positive image among domestic and foreign tourists.

To comply with the new normal standard, the MEA has supported 150 sets of clear canvasses to help prevent passengers from catching Covid-19 virus while enjoying city views in tuk-tuks that run in crowded neighbourhoods such as Sukhumvit, Na Na, Khlong Toei and Sanam Luang.

Meanwhile, EVAT will provide technical knowledge to tuk-tuk drivers participating in the programme on how to switch from an LPG-powered engine to an electrical one as well as the environmental benefits of using electric vehicles.

This campaign is part of MEA’s mission to promote the use of electric vehicles for both personal and business use to ensure sustainable energy consumption in the metropolitan areas, the authority said.

Pushing green technology

The National Innovation Agency, together with several private firms, is helping to boost the income and livelihood of farmers – while protecting the environment – through green tech.

Five initiatives, funded with around THB4 million, are being tested in Mueang Chang tambon in Nan. Those that gain a foothold with the tambon’s residents may be employed in other poverty-stricken areas nationwide.

  1. Solar-Powered Water Pumps

The Mayor of Mueang believes that new solar-powered water pumps could turn barren mountainsides into rich harvest areas.

Solar-powered pumps have been placed on top of Doi Pokkalong and Doi Pu Parn mountains, where they drew water up from a natural spring in a deep valley up to a mountaintop reservoir.

Water stored on high ground can then flow down to surrounding villages as far as 3 kilometres away via a series of pipes, using the free power of gravity. The system can supply water to 1,370 rai of land around Doi Pokkalong, and 700 rai around Doi Pu Parn.

In addition to this, residents will be able to request for water from the reservoir via a smartphone app, which tambon officials can approve or reject requests based on the farmer’s previous agricultural yields.

  1. Food Dehydrator Dome

Other innovations by the National Innovation Agency in Mueang Chang are on a smaller scale and serve to provide supplementary income to locals.

Housewives at the Mueang Chang Women’s Learning Center used to make only THB2500 to THB5000 a month by selling rice crackers, but with the addition of a food dehydrator dome in December, they were able to increase their monthly income to THB9000 by also selling solar-dried bananas.

Instead of being exposed to the pollution-ridden atmosphere, the bananas are dehydrated using tech designed especially for the club by Naresuan University. A combination of solar heat, LPG gas, and heated ceramic plates do the magic. The dome cost THB350000.

  1. Trash Compressor

In Mueang Chang’s most far-flung rural areas, garbage trucks might visit once every three months. That’s where the Yaksa-hand powered trash compressor comes in, designed for stay-at-home elderly and children to clean up their neighbourhoods while making extra cash.

The innovator, from Rajabhat Uttaradit University, says a family can make about THB6000 per year just by compressing plastic bottles and aluminium cans into 30 by 30 blocks to sell for about THB5 each. Machines have already been distributed to 14 areas in the tambon, as well as some districts in Uttaradit.

  1. Colourful Concrete

To help combat local waste, the NIA also launched a project to produce cheap concrete blocks using industrial byproducts such as cement dust and plastic waste. Colourful bits of plastic from single-use plastic bottles are embedded into the blocks, which can sell as much as THB70 a piece.

After a year of introducing the prototype to locals, they’re ready to roll out their production this year.

  1. Zero Waste Farming

However, not all green initiatives take immediately. At the Joko Learning Center, experts from Chulalongkorn University failed to convince farmers to convert to a radical, zero-waste way of farming in which microorganisms, instead of pesticides, are used to treat the soil. Under this model, sheep are also set free in orchards to graze and fertilize.

To convince farmers the change the way they’ve been doing things is for decades is almost impossible, and an academic presentation is not the way to reach them. However, the tambon mayor seemed optimistic about the innovations as a whole.

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